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October 20, 2000

First Lady Encourages Participation In "Red Ribbon Week"

CHICAGO -- First Lady Lura Lynn Ryan today asked all Illinois citizens to wear a red ribbon as a show of support for a drug-free lifestyle in celebration of "Red Ribbon Week", October 21-October 28.

"The annual Red Ribbon campaign has become an international symbol of the dedication of thousands of people championing the cause for healthier young people," said Mrs. Ryan, who serves as Illinois Honorary Chairperson.

"The Red Ribbon became the catalyst for communities to become more actively involved in the problems of youth drug use."

The Red Ribbon campaign was organized 15 years ago after U.S. Drug Enforcement Agent Enrique "KiKi" Camarena was captured, tortured and murdered by drug traffickers while working undercover in Mexico. The Illinois Drug Education Alliance and the Virginia Federation of Parents organized the campaign to recognize the work of Camarena and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

The red ribbon became the symbol of zero tolerance for illegal drug use and a commitment to a drug-free lifestyle. Red Ribbon Week is an opportunity for a community to take a collective stand against alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. The Illinois Drug Education Alliance provides a suggested listing of activities encouraging participation by parents and children. For more information contact IDEA at 630-420-1766.

The theme for this year's campaign is "Celebrate Drug Free Youth."

The most recent Illinois Youth Study on Substance Abuse shows youth that report using alcohol, tobacco or some other substance has declined four percent from the previous year.

"We are seeing a promising downward trend in teen drug use," Mrs. Ryan added. "But we must not let up on our commitment to teaching young people about the dangers associated with drug use.

"At the same time we also must continue to honor those young people who have chosen to remain drug free."

The campaign encourages participation by families, schools, community organizations, faith-based organizations and businesses.

Mrs. Ryan serves as Chair of Futures for Kids, which focuses on coordinating, improving and setting an agenda for existing programs aimed at reducing juvenile delinquency, substance abuse and violence among Illinois youth.

"Alone one person can make a difference," Mrs. Ryan added. "But together we can bring about a miracle."


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