WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. White Plains has lined its light posts, city hall steps, and street fixtures with red bows and balloons to welcome the city's annual "red ribbon" anti-drug week.
The seven-day emphasis on preventing youth drug and alcohol use officially kicked off Monday when Mayor Thomas Roach presented a proclamation declaring Oct. 23 through 29 Red Ribbon Week.
"This is a city that is proud of our youth. We have a wonderful youth bureau. The best in the state," said Roach, who praised several local kids organizations that work to "prevent alcohol and drug use" that too often claim the lives of young folks.
Dozens of children and program coordinators from the youth bureau, Girl Scouts Heart of the Hudson, Boy Scouts of America, POW'R Against Tobacco, and the White Plains Cares Coalition came dressed in red, with ruby balloons and signs extolling the virtues of living a drug-free life.
The U.S. Congress established Red Ribbon Week in 1988 in honor of Enrique Camarena, a drug enforcement administration special agent who was killed by drug traffickers in 1985.
Anne FitzSimmons, assistant chief of police, spoke about how children's commitments to remain drug free are a welcome tribute to Camarena and public safety officers who work to keep White Plains safe.
Frank Williams, executive director of the youth bureau, then had kids raise their hands to reaffirm their pact to stay away from drugs and alcohol.
"Our young people are shining a positive light on healthy activities here in the City of White Plains," said Williams. "We're going to be wearing red Wednesday, red Thursday, and we're going to finish on Friday with red."
White Plains was praised for recently passing a smoking ban in parks and open spaces and its robust youth outreach programs by Westchester POW'R Coordinator Makeda James.
Still, James said the 14.8 percent youth smoking rate shows that, "we still have work to do."
White Plains hopes to draw attention to underage drinking and drug use at a Tuesday play at Eastview Middle School, a chalk art event on Ferris Avenue Wednesday, and a "Youth Day" festival at the White Plains Youth Bureau Saturday.
Have you talked with your children about staying away from drugs or alcohol during this year's Red Ribbon Week? Will you do anything to mark Red Ribbon Week? Join the conversation below.
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