The 5th The Shattering the Myths was an amazing event with special guest speakers that included David Mineta, the Deputy Director for the Office of National Drug Control Policy, Margot Wallström, Sweden’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Veronica and Devin Eckhardt, who lost their teenage son Connor in July 2014 to one hit of a legal synthetic drug known as spice.“This program 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 5,000 high school students in D.C., Maryland and Virginia. Plans are now in place to offer youth rallies across the U.S.”
During the day students had the opportunity to get their questions answered by leading NIDA scientist, Dr. Ruben Baler, who enlightened everyone with the facts about how different drugs affect the brain. They heard about the dangers of the K-2, a new synthethic drug, from heartbroken parents Veronica and Devin Eckhardt whose 19 year old son is no longer with us. The Eckhardts are now on a mission to spread awareness about synthetic drugs and prevent other parents from having to bury a child or children to these deadly drugs. Students were then engaged in slam poetry writing workshops where they were able to express their own feelings and thoughts around substance abuse. Students were given the opportunity to share their poems by performing in an open mic session.
“The stories that our young people have to share are eye opening, raw, and real. And the fact that so many teens have the courage to stand up and speak up and out against drugs is truly inspiring,” said Ms. Girardo. “We, at Mentor Foundation USA, will do our very best to make everyone’s voice heard. It’s so moving, inspiring, empowering, important and impressive to see and hear the students bravely perform their very personal slam poems on stage in front of their peers and adults.”
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.
The “Shattering the Myths” event was held in observance of National Drug Facts Week (NDFW), and was hosted by Mentor Foundation USA, in partnership with the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the Embassy of Sweden.