Red Ribbon Week event to encourage drug prevention, awareness

Holly Viers • Oct 20, 2018 at 2:00 PM

KINGSPORT — As drug overdose deaths continue to rise in Tennessee, local groups have joined together to take a public stand against drug use.

Johnnie Mae Swagerty, executive director of South Central Kingsport Community Development and New Vision Youth, is inviting local residents to a walk designed to raise awareness about the drug problem in the region.

“We just want to get the message out to the community, especially our young people,” Swagerty said. “When they start doing drugs at a young age, the outcome is bad. So if we can start young with awareness, it can prevent and stop the drugs from spreading.”

A national movement: Swagerty said the walk is being held in observance of Red Ribbon Week. Held annually in October, Red Ribbon Week is a national campaign focused on drug prevention and awareness. This year’s theme is “Life Is Your Journey. Travel Drug-Free.”

Kingsport’s event: The walk will be held Tuesday, Oct. 23, from 4-6 p.m. People of all ages are welcome, and participants should meet in the Riverview Community Room at 3:45 p.m., Swagerty said. Walkers are welcome to bring signs and banners.

What to expect: Tuesday’s event will begin with the walk, which will take place around the Riverview community. After that, participants are invited back to the Riverview Community Room for a free nacho party featuring chili, cookies and drinks.

Children are also invited to participate in essay and poster contests related to the Red Ribbon Week theme. Judges will select winners in each of these contests during the walk, Swagerty said.

Who will be there: Officers with the Kingsport Police Department are expected to participate, along with representatives from the Sullivan County Health Department and the Sullivan County Anti-Drug Coalition. Martha Hicks, a retired cardiovascular technologist, will serve as the guest speaker.

If it rains: Rather than reschedule, Swagerty said the walk will move inside to the Riverview Community Room gym on the same day and time.

Supporters: In addition to South Central Kingsport and New Vision Youth, several organizations including Kingsport Housing & Redevelopment Authority, Kingsport Parks & Recreation, the Sullivan County Health Department, the Sullivan County Anti-Drug Coalition and Girls Inc. are supporting the event.

For more information: Contact Swagerty at (423) 429-7553.