Volunteer of the Month: Sally Burkhart of Apopka High School
By Simone Brown Knight on 03/01/2013 @ 07:40 AM
When students at Apopka High School in Central Florida have family issues, Sally Burkhart is there to help. Burkhart, the school’s Student Assistance & Family Empowerment (SAFE) Coordinator, works directly with troubled students and parents, in addition to dealing with outside agencies to coordinate counseling or other resources.
To prevent teen substance abuse and other risky behaviors, Burkhart dedicates as much time as possible to delivering healthy messages in the form of Informed Families’ universal campaigns: Family Day, Red Ribbon Week, Lock Your Meds and Safe Homes Safe Parties. Sally, in coordination with Informed Families’ Orlando Director Christine Stilwell and the Orange County Drug Free Coalition, works with a team of students, referred to as SAFE Student Ambassadors to promote prevention in a variety of ways, including pledge drives, hanging posters and banners, decorating the main hall’s bulletin board with anti-drug messages, including prevention messages in newsletters for families, decorating the school’s marquee and incorporating universal campaigns into the morning announcements.
“I like promoting these campaigns because it raises awareness on important topics,” says Malik Williams, a sophomore and SAFE Student Ambassador at Apopka High School. “We often see celebrities doing drugs. They may not be intending to say,’ I think you should do it too,’ but it may come off that way. I don’t want my friends to become statistics.”
Fellow student volunteer Kevin Douglas adds that he likes to prevent other teenagers from using drugs because he grew up around drugs. "Seeing it firsthand, seeing people doing it, it just doesn’t make sense," says Douglas. "I’ve seen the damage it causes. Plenty of times, I’ve been offered drugs and alcohol - especially at parties. I say, ’no, I’m good… it’s not for me.’”
Even with all of her hard work and volunteerism, Burkhart wishes she could do more. “I can’t spend the time I’d like to spend on prevention, but I try to do everything I can,” says Burkhart. “I want our students to make good choices and learn the consequences of making poor choices.”
Thanks to Sally’s prevention efforts, Apopka High School was honored for prevention excellence, receiving Red Ribbon Certification in 2010. Thank you, Sally, for your dedication to our mission of helping kids grow up safe, healthy and drug free. You are a wonderful partner and friend - and we are so fortunate to have a volunteer like you.
Photographed: Sally Burkhart, SAFE Coordinator with SAFE Ambassadors Kevin Douglas, Malik Williams and Anna Echevarria.
Announcing 2013 Red Ribbon Theme
Posted on 02/12/2013 @ 12:00 PM
Introducing...The 2013 Red Ribbon Theme: A Healthy Me Is Drug Free®
Congratulations to Aly Falck, a 7th grader in Solon, Ohio, for creating the 2013 Red Ribbon Theme.
Aly's digital arts teacher, Cheryl Holsapfel, learned about the National Family Partnership’s 2013 Red Ribbon Theme Contest from her school principal, Genie Green, at Solon Middle School and thought it would be a great opportunity for a “teachable moment” to talk to her students about drugs. Cheryl turned the contest into an assignment for all of her students. She saw it as an opportunity to teach real world skills, while infusing the drug prevention message.Check out Red Ribbon Theme Products
"What I liked best about Aly's theme is the fact that it is promoting good overall health," says David Falck, Aly's father. "You can't do drugs and in any way consider yourself healthy. We try to instill in our children the understanding that alcohol and drugs are absolutely off limits."
Check Out The 2013 Red Ribbon Planning Guide
Aly Falck won $500 in Red Ribbon theme merchandise for her school, Solon Middle School, for Red Ribbon Week, October 23-31st. It's all courtesy of National Family Partnership, sponsors of the Red Ribbon Campaign® and Nimco, Inc., the official source of Red Ribbon materials.
The Red Ribbon Theme Contest is held each Fall. The winning slogan and design are used throughout the following year at thousands of schools and communities across America. In its 28th year as the nation's largest and oldest drug prevention campaign, Red Ribbon Week® reaches 80 million people each year throughout the United States.
Photographed: Solon Middle School Principal Genie Green with Red Ribbon Theme Contest Winner Aly Falck
NFP Honors Achievement In Drug Prevention At National Red Ribbon Awards Dinner
By Amy Goldstein on 02/10/2013 @ 12:33 PM
The National Family Partnership®(NFP) recently hosted their 2nd annual National Red Ribbon Awards Dinner, co-sponsored by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). NFP celebrated the success of the 2012 Red Ribbon Campaign® (October 23-31st) and honored individuals and groups who made a difference in creating a drug free America. The event took place on Feb. 6, 2013 at The Army/Navy Club.
During the awards ceremony, NFP recognized the 10 winners of the 2012 National Red Ribbon Photo Contest and presented Jeb and Columba Bush with the Enrique “Kiki” Camarena National Red Ribbon Leadership Award. Both the South Dakota National Guard and the Adolescent Substance Abuse Prevention, Inc. received the “National Power of Partners Award” for their collaborative efforts in promoting drug awareness.
“The Red Ribbon Campaign® is a fun, powerful and effective way to deliver focused, branded, healthy, anti-drug messages to the public,” says NFP President Peggy Sapp, who also serves as President & CEO of Informed Families/The Florida Family Partnership. “The winners of the National Red Ribbon Awards honor DEA Agent Kiki Camarena’s legacy by helping to create a drug free America through the promotion, support and growth of the National Red Ribbon Campaign."
NFP also announced the theme for the 2013 National Red Ribbon Campaign®: “A Healthy Me Is Drug Free™,” created by Aly Falck, a middle school student from Solon, Ohio.
Featured speakers included Peggy Sapp, president of the NFP; R. Gil Kerlikowske, director of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP); Michelle Leonhart, administrator of the DEA; and Charles Curie, former administrator of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
Other notables in attendance included David Mineta, deputy director of Demand Reduction, ONDCP; Dr. Westley Clark, director, Center for Substance Abuse Treatment;Dr. Nora Volkow, director, National Institute of Drug Abuse; Jan Withers, president, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and Ann McGeehan, executive director, National Association for Children of Alcoholics (NACOA).
Does Addiction Run In Your Family? Tips For Parents
Posted on 12/04/2012 @ 09:24 AM
First, let us address the most common question when discussing this topic: Why do some people get addicted while others do not?
According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), no single factor can predict whether a person will become addicted to drugs. Risk for addiction is influenced by a combination of factors that include individual biology, social environment, and age or stage of development. The more risk factors an individual has, the greater the chance that taking drugs can lead to addiction. For example:
Biology. The genes that people are born with—in combination with environmental influences—account for about half of their addiction vulnerability. Additionally, gender, ethnicity, and the presence of other mental disorders may influence risk for drug abuse and addiction.
Environment. A person’s environment includes many different influences, from family and friends to socioeconomic status and quality of life in general. Factors such as peer pressure, physical and sexual abuse, stress, and quality of parenting can greatly influence the occurrence of drug abuse and the escalation to addiction in a person’s life.
Development. Genetic and environmental factors interact with critical developmental stages in a person’s life to affect addiction vulnerability. Although taking drugs at any age can lead to addiction, the earlier that drug use begins, the more likely it will progress to more serious abuse, which poses a special challenge to adolescents. Because areas in their brains that govern decision making, judgment, and self-control are still developing, adolescents may be especially prone to risk-taking behaviors, including trying drugs of abuse.
So what are some things you can do to prevent your child from going down the wrong path?
- Tell your child about the family history of alcohol and/or drug abuse and addiction. Start talking early and often. This is not something to sweep under the rug. The information will not only help to establish ongoing open communication between you, but will serve as an extra reason not to engage in underage drinking or drug use. Likened to an allergy, children learn that some people are more sensitive to drug and alcohol exposure than others.
- Set boundaries and monitor behavior. This advice applies to parents of children of all ages...even as young as 2 and 3 years old.
- Model positive and healthy behavior. What do you do to cope with stressful situations? If children observe parents using alcohol and drugs as a means to deal with issues or pressure, they will likely follow suit in the future.
- Help your children learn to regulate their emotions. Children need to learn how to identify their emotions and learn healthy ways of dealing with them. Emotions like disappointment, anger, shame, frustration, among others can be naturally difficult to process for many children.
- Encourage overall good health. Healthy habits to be encouraged include exercise, good nutrition/balanced diet, talking about feelings, etc.
- Be there. Be present at each pre-teen and teenage party held in your home to ensure that no drugs or alcohol are present.
- Lock Your Meds. Secure your medicine cabinet and take regular inventory to make sure no prescription medication is missing. Talk to your children about taking medication only as prescribed and supervised by a parent.
- Eat dinner together at least four times a week, or as often as possible.
- Get to know the parents of your children's friends. Set common boundaries and work together to protect your kids.
- Take The Family Check-up:
- Are you able to communicate calmly and clearly with your teenager regarding relationship problems?
- Do you encourage positive behaviors in your teenager on a daily basis?
- Are you able to negotiate emotional conflicts with your teenager and work toward a solution?
- Are you able to calmly set limits when your teenager is defiant or disrespectful? Are you able to set limits on more serious problem behavior such as drug use, if or when it occurs?
- Do you monitor your teenager to assure that s/he does not spend too much unsupervised time with peers?
- If you answered no to any of the questions in the Family Check Up, click here for tips on communication, boundary setting, negotiation, encouragement and supervision.
The National Association of Children of Alcoholics (NAcOA) has great resources and information related to this topic. Visit their resources page for more.
Are Scavenger Hunts Just Child's Play?
Posted on 11/26/2012 @ 05:14 PM
Are scavenger hunts just child's play or are they real tools to engage teens?
Heather, the mother of the middle school student who won our 2012 Online Scavenger Hunt Game on November 15th thinks it was a great idea. "I thought it was a great way to reach kids since many parents don't discuss the topic of drugs and drinking with their child." Students from 34 schools in 11 states partcipated in the hunt, which used texting for players to find the facts about the negative effects of underage drinking and drug use.
Melanie, Heather's 11 year old daughter, is the winner of a $50.00 Best Buy gift card for finding all eight correct answers in the October 2012 scavenger hunt. She attends Millenium Middle School in Central Florida and found out about the game from the posters put up around the school. "I remembered the Zombie poster," says Melanie " and I wanted to know more about the topic."
Melanie and her mom played the game together. Each time a new question was texted, they visited the Informed Families website to research the answers online. The drug facts in the scavenger hunt focused on four areas: Synthetic Drugs, Marijuana, Alcohol and Rx Drugs. "We were shocked at the number of kids dying from drugs and alcochol," says Heather. "I don't understand why kids aren't happy just being kids."
Debbie Owens, Executive Director of the Seminole Prevention Coalition, brought the Online Scavenger Hunt Game to Seminole County when she purchased 400 posters for distribution in their Middle and High Schools. "The kids really liked the scavenger hunt. They liked that it was not a lecture. The texting component gave the kids a fun way to find the information on their own," says Debbie. One High School, Eugene Gregory, was upset that their students were not initially going to be included in the hunt. They specicially requested to let students participate because it was valuable information that their students needed to see for themselves.
So I ask, are scavenger hunts just child's play? Tell us your thoughts below. Some parents and educators think it's great. When used correctly, a scavenger hunt can be a great tool for reaching people of all ages, while using human curiosity and a bit of fun to pass on key information.
Congratulations again to Melanie and her family. She will be using her Best Buy gift card to get something fun for her and her three siblings.
Stay tuned for the Online Scavenger Hunt Game in 2013. Register today by texting the word "Scavenger" to 69302 if you did not play in the 2012 hunt. Learn more about the 2012 game's questions and answers.
How Quickly Can Kids Obtain Drugs?
Posted on 11/04/2012 @ 07:14 AM
The latest teen survey results are in: how quickly can youth obtain cigarettes, alcohol, tobacco and prescription drugs?
The short answer: about 1/3 to 1/2 of youth report that they can get alcohol, cigarettes, prescription drugs to get high or marijuana within a day or less.
Between 31% and 50% of youth ages 12 to 17 report that they can get alcohol, cigarettes, prescription drugs to get high, or marijuana within a day or less, according to data from the 2012 National Survey of American Attitudes on Substance Abuse. Alcohol and cigarettes were the most readily accessible substances, with 50% and 44%, respectively, of youth reporting that they could obtain them within a day. Youth were least likely to report that they could get marijuana within a day (31%); 45% report that they would be unable to get marijuana at all.
It will be interesting to see if reported access to marijuana increases if more states pass medical marijuana and marijuana decriminalization laws. While marijuana use remains illegal under federal law, 17 states and the District of Columbia have some type of law allowing for the medical use of marijuana and 14 states have some type of marijuana decriminalization law. Medical marijuana laws are on the ballot in two states (Arkansas and Massachusetts) in the coming election, and initiatives to legalize marijuana for recreational use are on the ballot in three states (Colorado, Washington, and Oregon).
SOURCE: Adapted by CESAR from The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA), National Survey of American Attitudes on Substance Abuse XVII: Teens, 2012. Available online at http://www.casacolumbia.org/upload/2012/20120822teensurvey.pdf.
Simple Tools To Keep Kids Safe
By Amy Goldstein on 09/14/2012 @ 07:00 PM
Yesterday's webinar on Family Dinners & Other Simple, Timesaving Tools To Protect Kids by Emily Feinstein of CASAColumbia was a big hit! We had over 200 attendees in homes, schools, businesses and elsewhere across the Nation. In case you missed it, don't worry! We will have it up on our website in the next week for you to view it and share with your friends.
So what are some of the key points that we learned?
- Adolescent substance abuse is America's #1 Public Health Problem.
- More than 90 percent of individuals who suffer from addiction began using addictive substances before the age of 18. Furthermore, the earlier teens began using substances, the more likely they will develop an addiction.
- 11.9% percent of high school students have an addiction involving nicotine, alcohol or other drugs
- Regular family dinners are associated with reduced teen alcohol and drug use.
- Your disapproval of underage drinking and drug use is the #1 reason they will choose not to do it.
- Teens who attend regular religious services (4 times a month) are less likely to drink and use drugs.
Apathy About Alcohol Harm is Infecting the Nation!
By Pamela S. Erickson on 08/17/2012 @ 07:00 PM
A top health authority has called excessive alcohol use “a largely unrecognized public health problem.” The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) noted that more than 15 percent of U.S. adults, or 33 million Americans, report binge drinking in the past 30 days. And, the percentage of adults who binge has not declined for more than 15 years.
Alcohol misuse, including binge and underage drinking, is the nation’s third leading cause of preventable death, responsible for more than 79,000 deaths annually and a wide range of health problems. Beyond the human costs, excessive alcohol use also has a tremendous economic cost, with a $185 billion annual price tag in health care and criminal justice expenses and lost productivity, the CDC reported.
Alcohol’s potential for harm is clear. And yet, apathy and a normalization of alcohol appear to have set in. Some examples help illustrate the point. In a public radio interview about legislation to expand alcohol sales in Connecticut, a state representative noted the flexibility it would give liquor store owners to sell on Sundays, the millions in additional tax revenue that was expected and the convenience for consumers. “It’s also about the consumer,” she said.
When the question arose about whether the legislation was, in effect, asking consumers to drink more alcohol to raise revenue, she responded that the revenue estimate is based on Connecticut residents not migrating to neighboring states to spend their alcohol money. There was little, if any, mention of the potential public safety and health impacts. Elsewhere, the wine buyer for Costco, effectively equated wine with any other product during a recent media interview. That company is one of the world’s largest purveyors of wine and recently bankrolled a successful Washington state ballot initiative that deregulated wine and spirits.
The Washington initiative is part of a disturbing trend. As noted in the recently released report “The Dangers of Alcohol Deregulation: The United Kingdom Experience 2012 Update,” large grocery corporations in the U.S. are lobbying and filing lawsuits to deregulate, convincing many elected officials that such changes will bring increased revenue to public coffers and do little harm. But both of these assumptions are highly questionable.
Despite increasing pressure to sell it “like tires and mayonnaise” at retail establishments, alcohol is a unique product precisely because of its potential harm. Due to that, it should be marketed and sold with care, based on the three-tiered regulatory system designed to foster moderation and prevent sales practices that lead to abuse. Indeed, this system is effective at preventing fake/tainted alcohol, efficiently collecting taxes and balancing prices.
Rather than focus on increased alcohol deregulation, we as a society should look to build on the successes we’ve achieved within the context of the current system. Both underage drinking and drunk driving deaths are at record lows in the U.S. It’s a time to continue, not hamper, that momentum.
It’s worth repeating that nearly 80,000 deaths nationwide are attributed to alcohol misuse, yet the enormous toll gets little attention. Any other tragedy that led to such a tremendous loss of life would make headlines.
Any death due to excessive alcohol use is one too many. And all of us - citizens, business owners, substance abuse prevention and treatment advocates, public health authorities, and elected officials - have important roles to play to keep apathy of alcohol’s harms at bay.
This article was written by Pamela S. Erickson for a publication of Public Action Management. For more information, contact Pamela S. Erickson at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the campaign website: www.healthyalcoholmarket.com.
Are Pizza Parties Such A Bad Thing?
By Peggy B. Sapp on 07/28/2012 @ 07:00 PM
School Is Opening In A Few Weeks, So Here's An Important Question: Are Funders Short Sighted About What A Pizza Party Means To A Child?
I’m not sure funders realize what a pizza party means to a child. In fact, families who participate in our programs say they don’t just want us to give them a certificate when they graduate; they want to get together as a community to commemorate the completion of the program. What do groups of people do when they get together? We eat!!! IS THAT AN EVIDENCE BASED PROGRAM? Casual observation proves it is something people have been doing it for thousands of years. While not all of our program participants experience economic hardships, some do – and a meal to enjoy together as a family can mean the world. That’s what Family Day is all about – eating dinner together as a proven method of preventing risky behavior among youth.Eating Dinner Together Prevents Drug Abuse
People need a sense of community and meals together create a sense of belonging. Let’s not become so smart we lose common sense and become short sighted when we set policies. Simple things make a difference.
What Do You Think? Are Pizza Parties Important For Kids?
Ideas For Celebrating Red Ribbon Week
By Amy Goldstein on 07/28/2012 @ 02:34 PM
How Are You Celebrating Red Ribbon Week?
Red Ribbon Week is just around the corner. How are you celebrating it? Check out this activities page from the National Family Partnership for suggestions! Whether you are a parent, educator, student, law enforcement officer, faith based leader, government representative, media leader or a member of the medical community, we have something for you!Check out these suggestions for making this Red Ribbon Week the best yet!
We Want To Hear From You!
Share your Red Ribbon Ideas by commenting below and we will add our favorites to the lists!