Jamila presented the work that Mentor Foundation USA has been doing in prevention from using our school based mentoring as a tool in prevention to our very successful Shattering the Myths youth prevention rallies and H&M Drug Free T-shirt Slogan Contest. Our initiatives are designed to place the youth first and listen.
There were many goals of this discussion and chief among them was the need for drug policy to step into the 21st century. Director of the ONDCP, Gil Kerlikowske, spoke of the economic need of drug reform and how taking a new, science based approach will not only effectively help more people but it will save America millions of dollars. Jack Stein from the National Institute on Drug Abuse presented the most recent science and showed how addiction is a treatable disease of the brain and not simply a criminal issue.
Also taking part in this event was former U.S. Congressman Patrick Kennedy, who spoke on the need to reevaluate the way we treat addiction and how we can remove the stigma surrounding addiction. “We need a check up from the neck up!” Mr. Kennedy exclaimed as he presented a panel to discuss various ways the academic, scientific and public communities can work together to spread an accurate message surrounding addiction and can start to tear away the stigma.
Included in the discussion were law enforcement professionals, Harvard professors, scientists, medical professionals, parents, lawyers and White House officials. Mentor Foundation USA is honored to have been the only prevention organization represented. We feel that our presence unique perspective helped to move the conversation forward and helped to focus on youth. Jamila presented our approach to “stop, look and listen to what young people are doing”. Through this approach we are able to customize our methods and reach more people. Taking a science-based approach to addiction will not only save more lives it will build a stronger community.
Thank you to all of our partners that make our work possible and allow us to reach youth in a meaningful way and thank you to all of the students we work with for speaking up and out. Your voices were heard at the White House and we encourage you to keep speaking.