Red Ribbon Week has shown change is emerging

During the Jackson County United Way community conversations last year, a 4-H Junior Leader shared, “Drug-free Red Ribbon Week should be supported by the whole community showing that adults are behind this.”

Because of this one valuable idea, I believed there was an opportunity to boost the community’s awareness and encourage everyone to share a message of drug-free living.

It has been amazing what this one idea has turned into. There is so much energy around this. It has been exciting to see.

When we started the Harwood Community Conversations in 2016, we were told if we did the process, we would see small pockets of change begin to form and that the community would start working together in new ways.

Red Ribbon Week and the United Against Drugs work is a very real example of pockets of change emerging.

JCUW has had the opportunity to present the findings of what we heard to hundreds of people since this spring. Here is what we’ve seen happen:

Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 108 distributed 750 United Against Drugs postcards during Scoop the Loop.

Jackson County Drug-Free Council and the Grassroots Action Team co-coordinated the best-attended National Drug Overdose Awareness event in August.

Seymour Main Street recruited 34 volunteers with the Seymour High School art department to paint Red Ribbon Week messages on 18 downtown businesses.

Seymour SADD and Seymour School Resource Officer Keith Williams recruited support from 11 organizations and businesses for a United Against Drugs banner on Tipton Street at the Schneck-owned old state police post.

Brownstown School Resource Officer John Reichenbacker recruited support from 21 organizations and businesses for a United Against Drugs banner on Main Street at the Jackson County Courthouse in Brownstown.

Seymour Community Schools increased their engagement by placing Owl Always Be Drug-Free banners at every school in the district; further use of anti-drug curriculum; and weeklong celebrations.

Crothersville Community Schools walked United Against Drugs on Friday.

Seymour Middle School student government adviser Jamey Doriot and Seymour-Jackson Elementary School social worker Cassie Fox facilitated SMS studentwide volunteer engagement with students assembling 2,500 red pinwheels that will make their way home with elementary students during Red Ribbon Week for students to put in their yards to pledge a drug-free life.

Brownstown Teens for Change will be making a video with an anti-drug use message in November.

Jackson County United Way has focused our Dine United efforts to include tips to talk to your kids about substance abuse.

Seymour Main Street and Beautiful Chaos have coordinated a communitywide celebration of Red Ribbon Week called GET LOUD NOW to be conducted from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday at the Seymour Area Farmers Market lot. Food trucks will be available for purchase with music, and there will be stories about overcoming addiction.

Jackson County Drug-Free Council and the Jackson County Health Department in coordination with the Seymour Police Department will be hosting Drug Take-Back Day throughout the county Saturday to help people discard unused or unwanted drugs appropriately.

This is just the starting place for our county. We see opportunities and possibilities for working together to make a bigger impact.

The focus of promoting Red Ribbon Week was really a much bigger idea than the 4-H student ever dreamed. County residents want to see a safe, healthy and drug-free place to live. Starting with the aspiration allows all individuals to consider what they can do to change our county’s attitudes and norms.

Each individual can attribute to our goal as a county. What will you do? Contact me at 812-522-5450 to talk about what you would like to do.

Tonja Couch is executive director of Jackson County United Way. Send comments to awoods@tribtown.com.