WASHINGTON, Jan. 29, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- More than 200 D.C.-area high school students will interact with top U.S. scientific experts and inspiring guest speakers to help "shatter the myths" about drugs and substance abuse, and pledge to stay drug-free at a major rally at The House of Sweden, 2900 K Street, N.W., Washington, D.C., on Thursday, Jan. 29, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The "Shattering the Myths" event is held in observance of National Drug Facts Week (NDFW), and is hosted by Mentor Foundation USA, in partnership with the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the Embassy of Sweden.
Special guest speakers include David Mineta, the Deputy Director for the Office of National Drug Control Policy, Sweden's Minister for Foreign Affairs Margot Wallström, and Veronica and Devin Eckhardt, who lost their teenage son in July, 2014 to ONE HIT of a so-called 'legal' synthetic drug known as spice.
"The sudden and tragic death of our son this past year has devastated our family. We chose to publicly share our story in an effort to raise awareness and ultimately to help others avoid the grief we now live with each day. Shattering The Myths Youth Rally is aimed at challenging our youth to stay drug-free by giving them the facts and sharing real-life stories like ours; we are honored to be working with the Mentor Foundation USA and grateful to be participating in such a strategic event."
During the day students will have the opportunity to get their questions answered by leading NIDA scientists, hear about the true danger of substance abuse from parents Veronica and Devin Eckhardt and also participate in poetry slam workshops where they are able to express their own feelings around substance abuse.
"This event is so important because it inspires and motivates youth to become their own advocates for drug-prevention by allowing them to dispel myths and make educated choices," says Gunilla Girardo, president and CEO of Mentor Foundation USA, "Since 2011, when Mentor Foundation USA began organizing these youth rallies, we have reached more than 2,500 high school students in D.C., Maryland and Virginia. Plans are now in place to offer youth rallies across the U.S."
In conjunction with the "Shattering the Myths" event, global fashion retailer H&M will recognize the winner of the 2014 national "drug-free" T-shirt slogan contest. From among the many submissions from youth across the U.S., the winning slogan "Be Free – Live Free – Drug Free" was unanimously selected.
"I was thinking about how to be free. To live free and be free, you need to be drug free," says winner Jack Somers of Johns Creek High School, in Johns Creek, Ga. The annual contest is held in collaboration with Mentor Foundation USA and motivates youth to become their own advocates for drug prevention.
"We are pleased to continue to partner with Mentor Foundation USA. They are leaders in helping to raise awareness in young people about the dangers of drug use," says Daniel Kulle, president of H&M North America.
Background. About one-third of high school seniors across the country report using an illicit drug sometime in the past year, and more than 10 percent report non-medical use of a narcotic painkiller. While drugs can put a teenager's health and life in jeopardy, many teens are not aware of the risks. Even for those teens who do not abuse drugs, many have friends or family who do, and they are often looking for ways to help them.
About Mentor Foundation USA Our mission is to prevent drug abuse among youth while helping them identify and pursue their goals. Shattering the Myths is a major part of our drug prevention platform.
Mentor Foundation USA is an affiliate of Mentor International, which was founded in 1994 by Her Majesty Queen Silvia of Sweden and the World Health Organization. We work to prevent drug abuse among youth while helping them identify and pursue their life goals. We operate as a Federation with national chapters in the United States, United Kingdom, Sweden, Lithuania, Latvia, Germany, Colombia, and a regional operation in Lebanon, which includes 22 Arab League countries. Collectively, we have implemented projects in over 80 countries and impacted more than 6 million lives.
Contact: Michaela Pratt: (202) 536-1594 [email protected]
SOURCE Mentor Foundation USA