Red Ribbon Week promotes awareness

Photo courtesy Saniya Mathis’ Instagram

In the midst of midterms and a quick approach to finals, college students are prone to lean on drugs to cope with anxiety and stress. In honor of October being National Substance Abuse Prevention Month, Florida A&M students Saniya Mathis and Reanna Wilson have worked to raise awareness and encourage fellow classmates to say no to drugs.

Mathis and Wilson co-chaired a week full of events in honor of Red Ribbon Week.  Red Ribbon Week is an alcohol, tobacco, drugs and violence prevention awareness campaign observed annually in October in the United States.

Wilson remembered experiencing Red Ribbon Week in elementary school.  But she knows that college students could use the motivation to say no to drugs now more than ever.

“The last time I heard about drug abuse was high school and elementary school, but we were young back then,” said Wilson.  “As kids we had the knowledge to know don’t do drugs in the future because they are not good for you.  But now we are in college and it is still happening all around me.  I know people use it as a coping mechanism, but there are other things you can do to better yourself and cope with stress.”

Midterm and finals weeks are prime times for students to feel overwhelmed with studies, social engagements and work.  Mathis and Wilson recognized the extra pressure put on students during this time and wanted to shine a light on alternatives to relieve stress and enjoy the full college experience.

In addition, they want to remind students of the resources like the FAMU Counseling Center that are available on campus in times of need.

Resident Director Traevon Cooper was encouraged to learn about the week’s events after receiving a red ribbon in support of “wear your ribbon Wednesday.”  Cooper and FAMU students were able to show off their ribbons and support on social media.

“Finding out that students are bringing awareness about drug abuse makes me feel good,” Cooper said.  “This is something that is personal to me because of members in my family who have dealt with it. So just bringing awareness to how bad drugs can really affect you and take hold of your life is very important.”

According to, addiction (alcohol or drug) is the fourth leading cause of health problems in Leon County, ranking at 24%.  This issue is even higher is relation to university students in the area.

“The amount of support and love that was shown was definitely anticipated, but it was more than that,” said Mathis.  “We had support from clubs and organizations on campus and students who wanted to know what we were doing in the future.”

Mathis and Wilson are planning on having a fundraiser this week as part of their awareness schedule.  All proceeds will be given to a rehabilitation center in Tallahassee.

They also want to start an organization on campus to fight against drug and alcohol abuse by college students and create a safe space for those who have been affected by it.

For more information about drug and alcohol prevention, visit