MIDLOTHIAN — ‘Tis the season for giving, and, luckily for Jackie McDonald and Mountain Peak Elementary in Midlothian, someone has to be on the receiving end of the gifts.
On Friday, Dec. 2, it was announced that McDonald had won the National Red Ribbon Photo Contest, which takes place as a part of National Red Ribbon Week – the nation’s oldest and largest drug prevention campaign, sponsored by the National Family Partnership (NFP).
During the month of October, McDonald worked with her family to decorate their front door with this year’s theme, “YOLO. Be Drug-Free.” Armed with a goal to promote her commitment to living a healthy and drug-free lifestyle, McDonald earned $1,000 for her school of choice, Mountain Peak Elementary, and an iPad for her family, a contest press release states.
“The contest created an opportunity to have a discussion with our kids,” said McDonald in the release. “This topic is sort of taboo and we usually shield our children from things like this, but with this project, we were able to talk about it with them. It is not easy to explain the difference between medicine and drugs. I'm a cancer survivor so it helped us explain to our daughters what drugs make us healthy vs. drugs that don't make us healthy.”
According to the release, Red Ribbon Week began in 1985 after the abduction and murder of DEA Agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena. The first-ever National Red Ribbon Week was organized by the National Family Partnership in 1988. NFP continues to sponsor the campaign for families, schools and communities across the nation each year. Since its inception, the campaign has touched millions of lives to promote and celebrate drug-free living.
“An estimated 80 million people celebrate Red Ribbon Week each year,” said NFP President Peggy Sapp in the release. “We designed the contest to involve families, schools, and communities in delivering the drug prevention message to children while promoting a healthy and drug-free lifestyle. We are so impressed by the winners and their wonderful stories about spreading the Red Ribbon message in their homes, schools and communities.”
Acting DEA Administrator Chuck Rosenberg congratulated all of the Red Ribbon Photo Contest participants and added that “this is a great way to spread the prevention message and educate students and families about drug abuse.”
Nationally, the contest named 20 winners – ten home entries and ten school entries in various regions throughout the nation. The money earned for winning the contest will go to support the school’s drug education and prevention programs, thanks to the Drug Enforcement Administration, the contest’s co-sponsors. Close to 100,000 votes were cast in support of the more than 400 contest entries.
“Our organization has been conducting Red Ribbon Week activities for years,” said program coordinator of the Reach Council Tom Kowatch. “We are very excited and blessed that the McDonald family showed support for her community and Red Ribbon Week. The contest encouraged students to learn more about the purpose of Red Ribbon Week and how substances both legal and illegal can have harmful effects.”
To learn more about Red Ribbon Week and the contest, visit www.RedRibbon.org. Or, you can see all 2016 winning photos at www.redribbon.org/contest/winners.