red ribbon ideasRed Ribbon Week is celebrated each year from October 23 – 31 (read more about what is Red Ribbon Week and its history). In this post, you will find 5 Red Ribbon Week ideas and activities for your students. 

As educators, we have a vested interest in helping students avoid the pitfalls of drugs and alcohol. The logic of following a path towards a natural high is clear, but logic is rarely the key to keeping students off the path towards drug and alcohol use. 

We know that tweens and teens have the perplexing challenge of trying to fit in and stand out all at the same time. Because of this state of their social existence, peer pressure can be particularly effective at blurring lines and making the clearest logic rather fuzzy.

Students are also often caught in the middle of pushing boundaries and staying on the straight and narrow path of acceptance. They desperately want to be connected to their peers, and that need for connection and belonging can easily trump good decision-making.

1. Help Your Students Understand Their Development In A Positive Way

red ribbon week ideasIt’s important to honor their development in a respectful way and help them to appreciate where they are in life. 

For example, it can be ineffective and even hurtful to tell a student, “well your brain isn’t fully developed.” 

First of all, unlike height or other markers of development, there is no visual evidence that their brains are changing, and they feel perfectly reasonable and rational to them. Thus telling them that their brains aren’t fully functional won’t resonate with them as true. 

Secondly, that message can also be heard as “your brain is inferior” or “your brain doesn’t work right” both of which play directly into the insecurities that tweens and teens are facing, making them feel even less connected.

It can be informative and supportive however to teach them about their brain development, “The adolescent brain is fascinating in how it develops and allows you to try new things.” 

This far more positive message, lifts the student up, instead of pushing them down.

Consider ways to support students as they grow and learn from a positive perspective, including how they can foster their own brain development by making healthy choices.

Weekends can be challenging times for tweens and teens. They have more freedom to plan their own activities and hang out with friends, and they can often find themselves in situations in which they are being offered or even pressured to experiment with drugs and alcohol. 

Even if they are not directly involved in the weekend party scene, tweens and teens are exposed to a more adult world through peers and media. Peer pressure is magnified by social media and general media perpetuates a sexy image of drugs and alcohol. 

There is real pressure to experiment with risky behaviors and a misrepresentation that “all kids are doing drugs and drinking.” They need independence to explore their world and honest information and effective strategies to help them navigate it safely. 

Combat the misrepresentation of teen drug and alcohol abuse by sharing these 10 teen drug and alcohol use statistics.

2. Share Positive Videos In Your Classroom

Share the Natural High Common-core-aligned curriculum in your class, homeroom, or advisory. Each video is 3 to 5 minutes in length, and you can follow up with engaging discussion questions and activities that promote healthy decision-making and resilience.

red ribbon week activities

The curriculum utilizes a positive approach, meets students where they are, and utilizes 40+ well-known athletes, musicians, artists, and celebrities to reinforce the importance of finding your own natural high.

Students will also hear directly about the true dangers of drug and alcohol abuse from these relevant influencers. 

The Natural High Red Ribbon Week 2021 Video Playlist includes:

  • Tony Hawk – Pro Skateboarder
  • Carissa Moore – Pro Surfer
  • Lisa Leslie – Pro Basketball Player
  • Tim Howard – US Pro Soccer Player
  • Ron Artis II – Singer/Songwriter
  • Kai Lenny – Pro Surfer
  • Dartanyon Crockett – US Judo Athlete
  • Queen Harrison – US Olympic Hurdler & Sprinter
  • Terry Kennedy – Pro Skateboarder
  • Danyelle Wolf – World Champion Boxer

Natural High helps to frame decision-making as a positive – just say yes to doing something that fills you with joy and satisfaction – and helps provide students with the tools to create positive and intentional decision-making habits. 

Our curriculum walks students through effective strategies and helps them explore alternatives without dictating one path to a healthy lifestyle. 

A few of Natural High’s Red Ribbon Week 2021 activities include:

  • How to Run Your Own Natural High Video Contest *New 2021 activity*
  • Stressors and Coping Strategies
  • Develop a Support Team
  • Your Personal Hero
  • Drug-Free Pledge to Live Naturally High
  • And more!

red ribbon week videos

3. Have Your Students Take The Pledge To Live Drug-Free

Public pledges take many forms, like physically signing a piece of paper or posting a photo to social media. Research shows that signing a pledge, and including friends, a teacher, a parent or guardian, can help keep students accountable for making good decisions.

This has been tested in a variety of contexts and campaigns, like people pledging to lose weight and politicians committing to not raise taxes. The reason public pledges work is simple — they create social pressure.

“Gaining commitments and pledges to perform a behavior has been proven effective, increasing the likelihood that your target will actually follow through with a good intention.”  (Social Marketing: Influencing Behaviors for Good By Philip Kotler, Nancy Lee).

Over 80,000 people have directly pledged to live naturally high. Not only does publicly pledging to something increase follow-through, but it has the added benefit of encouraging others to follow suit.

Here are some ideas to have your students take the pledge to be drug-free:

4. Get Your Parents Involved – Prompt A Family Conversation

This work can also be shared with the parent community to help them be more informed and involved in supporting their students. Sharing this work with the parent community will provide parents with a positive approach to discussing these difficult topics with their kids. 

Teens who consistently learn about the risks of drugs from their parents are up to 50% less likely to use drugs than those who don’t.

If parents can reinforce at home these messages that the Natural High curriculum can provide students at school, then the students will feel even more supported by their community in making healthy decisions. One of Natural High’s activities is to Prompt A Family Conversation. You may find this activity, and many more, in the Natural High Activity Library. Send this activity home with your students to get a conversation started. 

Additionally, the stronger the support system a student has, the more likely a student is to reach out when they are struggling to make a healthy choice. has Red Ribbon Week activities for parents as well. 

Send a letter to your parent community for Red Ribbon Week

If you’d like to share Red Ribbon Week with your parents, here’s a letter you can send home in celebration of 2021 Red Ribbon Week and letting them know what their kids are learning. Many parents are unaware of Red Ribbon Week.

5. Take The Red Ribbon Week Photo Challenge

Here’s a great Red Ribbon Week idea to spread awareness amongst your school. Have all the students wear red and take a photo of the entire school or class. You can create different messages and designs. This is great for yearbook and promotion of good choices!

Download the Red Ribbon Week School Photo Challenge here: RRW School Photo Challenge 

Start changing lives this Red Ribbon Week.

Click HERE to access our Free Award-Winning Red Ribbon Week content and curriculum.

Has this post inspired your Red Ribbon Week plans? Share with us on Facebook @livenaturallyhigh and tell us some of your Red Ribbon Week ideas and best practices.

Red Ribbon Week Video