SDCOE Launches Drug-Prevention Education Video Series
The San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE) launched a new drug-prevention video series to provide young people with information about the dangers of drugs and drug misuse. The I Choose My Future series includes tools and resources to help them choose a future without drugs.
SDCOE made the announcement at a press conference at Coronado Middle School during Red Ribbon Week, which lasts through Oct. 31. Speakers included Dr. Paul Gothold, San Diego County superintendent of schools; Summer Stephan, San Diego County district attorney; Karl Mueller, auperintendent of Coronado Unified School District; Dr. Natalie Laub, assistant professor of pediatrics at UC San Diego; Owen Erlichman and Anna Thoms, Coronado Middle School 8th graders; and Rocky Herron, alcohol and other drug prevention ambassador at SDCOE.
Herron hosts the video series, which also features interviews with doctors, experts, and families sharing their lived experiences. Herron, who spent 31 years with the Drug Enforcement Administration, has been providing in-person presentations for many years, sharing his own lived experiences with students.
“Drugs today are stronger, cheaper, easier to get, and more socially acceptable than ever. Every single tool we can offer schools to warn and prepare kids has a value that can’t be calculated,” Herron said. “We must change the culture. Kids need and deserve many voices warning them about drug use today.”
I Choose My Future explores the impacts of drug misuse on the developing brain; explains the dangers of vaping, marijuana, opioids, fentanyl, and other drugs; and provides strategies for handling peer pressure and getting help. In San Diego County, there were more than 1,300 drug overdose deaths in 2022, a high percentage of which were from fentanyl.
Eighth grader Anna Thoms shared how the presentation impacted her.
“This presentation really showed me how even trying something one time or saying yes one time can completely change your entire approach to life, your future," she explained. "I think this issue is something that really needs to be spread.”
The video series was created for educators to use in the classroom, enabling more schools and students to hear the important messages about identifying dangerous drugs, drug misuse, and tips for handling peer pressure. Parents and caregivers also can use these resources to help them talk with their students.
“The drugs of today do not discriminate, and no family is immune,” said District Attorney Summer Stephan, who appears in Chapter 6. “I’m asking everyone to view these videos and do something to educate yourself and talk with your family about the threat of the new generation of drugs. There really is no experimentation. Today’s experiment is tomorrow’s funeral.”
Coronado Unified School District has been hosting Herron since 2016. Superintendent Karl Mueller said that the I Choose My Future message resonated with the district because the choice ultimately comes down to the students.
“We need to empower their voice and provide them with as much information as possible,” Mueller said. “We believe that every child every day deserves a connection, a challenge, and a champion, and Rocky is one of our champions.”
SDCOE has focused on comprehensive substance abuse prevention education for decades, an approach that combines education, harm-reduction strategies, and mental health and well-being supports.
“I'm proud of the work SDCOE and districts throughout the county are doing to increase drug prevention and awareness efforts in our schools and communities,” County Superintendent or Schools Dr. Paul Gothold said. “This collective and continued effort provides support and empowers students to make healthy choices.”
The I Choose My Future videos and discussion resources are available at sdcoe.net/IChoose.
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