United Way Expands Visual Display of Support for Drug Free Community

“We knew from listening to the community over the last two years what county residents hope for: a healthy place to live, where residents are alive.  We didn’t expect overwhelming support with a drug-free living message,” shared Tonja Couch, Jackson County United Way (JCUW) Executive Director.  Red Ribbon Week is the largest drug prevention campaign in the nation.  Red Ribbon Week is October 23rd-31st; and the whole county is turning red with the support of a Community Foundation of Jackson County grant. 

During the JCUW Community Conversations in 2017, a 4H Junior Leader, Erica Lee 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, Couch, believed there was an opportunity to boost the community’s awareness and encourage everyone to share a message of drug-free living.  When we approached the Community Foundation during the fall grant cycle, we shared with them, “During Red Ribbon Week we want to see residents throughout the county come together to keep children, families, and communities safe, healthy, and drug-free.”

Community Foundation President, Dan Davis agreed, “The purpose of Red Ribbon Week is to share information, engage in activities, educate and reduce risk in the community.”  He added, “Through the Foundation’s funding of this project, we know United Way is working on ways for families to learn more about setting rules and communicating with their children.  Also, they are focused on building community awareness and increasing community engagement to share the drug-free living message throughout the county.”

Last year, JCUW saw 28 different community organizations team up to share the message county-wide, this year it is growing even bigger.  “One of the beautiful things about sharing Erica’s comment, it was a call to action,” shared Couch.  She continued, “I was excited when I saw the community come together in ways I wouldn’t have imagined, especially the partnership with Seymour Main Street, which has grown this year to include Seymour and Trinity High School Art Students. 

Becky Schepman, Seymour Main Street Executive Director, shared, “I hope with all of the red ribbons downtown and around the community, people will see them and take the time to talk with their kids and families about living a drug-free life. Our strongest influencers most times are family members and kids seeing that we don’t just talk about a drug-free life in school but also at home benefits everyone.”

“Red Ribbon is based on scientific principles for substance abuse prevention and by promoting a county-wide drug free living message, and celebrating Red Ribbon week, our community’s anti-drug-use attitudes and norms will strengthen,” stated Couch.  “Another way, we are working on anti-drug-use attitudes to strengthen include table tent talking points at our Dine United locations and with all public schools distributing daily talking points for parents.”

Red Ribbon Week has long been celebrate in the schools systems throughout Jackson County, but the message of the importance of drug-free conversations hasn’t always made it home.  This year, with the support of the Foundation we’ve been able to create tips for parents.  Each school system has their own themed days developed and overall county-wide there will be banners for each school.  Great things happen like Jackson Elementary’s door decorating contest, Brownstown Middle School’s Student Council delivers a presentation about drugs and the effects, Crothersville Elementary’s PTO have kids take a pledge and Medora students work through a drug prevention curriculum.

For the fifth year, Jackson County restaurants are pledging a percentage of sales to the annual campaign.  This year, locations have table tents about how to talk to your kids about drug use and signs and symptoms to look for.  “By having these on the tables at locations like Townhouse Cafe and Chillicen, we are encouraging families that are enjoying a meal out to have a serious conversation about how important it is to live a drug free life” shared Couch.

For more about Dine United locations visit Jackson County United Way on Facebook and look at their events.

  • Wednesday, October 17- Brewskies
  • Friday, October 19- The Pines
  • Monday, October 22- Townhouse Café
  • Tuesday, October 23- Brooklyn Pizza
  • Wednesday, October 24- Mi Casa
  • Thursday, October 25- Pizza Palace
  • Friday, October 26- Chillicen
  • Monday, October 29- Cortland Diner

All of this work is done in collaboration with the Drug-Free Council and the Public Awareness Action Team.  AmyMarie Travis, Jackson County Drug-Free Council President and Superior Court One Judge, shared, “My goal for the next generation of citizens of Jackson County is for each person to maximize their potential.  Our young people, who are the emerging leaders for this community, cannot maximize their potential when they are laden with the negative effects of addiction.  By working together to share the message and hope of Red Ribbon Week, we can raise each other up and maximize the potential of this community.”

“We continued to be amazed at how the partnerships and collaborations continue to build around this issue,” shared Couch.  The Jackson County Public Library has always been focused on delivering what the community is interested in.  During Red Ribbon Week, you can stop by and pick up a Red Ribbon to wear.  You also might notice red banners and ribbons hanging up in towns across the county.

Julia Aker, Jackson County Public Library Director added, “The library is grateful to Judy Smith memorial donors who helped us purchase over $1,300 in addiction and recovery materials for the collection in Seymour, Crothersville, and Medora as well as paperbacks for the Jackson County Jail.  We hope that community members who need access to them will take advantage of these free resources on the shelves in the library, on OverDrive through the e-Indiana Digital Consortium, and through hoopladigital.”