2017 NLC Charlotte City Summit Solution Session ‘Operation Prevention: Educating Youth on the Dangers of Opioid Misuse’ Explores Solutions for Eradicating the Opioid Epidemic in Every Community
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – To further the efforts of Operation Prevention, the Drug Enforcement Administration and Discovery Education united with the National League of Cities (NLC) 2017 City Summit to help educate students, families and communities about the science behind opioid addiction, its impacts on the brain and body, and methods to combat the growing opioid epidemic. During the City Summit hosted in Charlotte, North Carolina on Thursday, November 16, 2017, Operation Prevention: Educating Youth on the Dangers of Opioid Misuse explored the opioid epidemic, the federal response to the epidemic and the importance of educating K-12 students as a driving force for encouraging lifesaving conversations about drug-free living.
“The Drug Enforcement Administration is committed to proactive efforts that educate students about the science behind drug addiction and its impacts, with resources that help initiate authentic conversations in the home and classroom,” said Sean Fearns, chief of community outreach, DEA. “The opioid epidemic will only relent with our collective vow to resolve this crisis once and for all. Through community outreach and local partnerships, we hope to work lockstep with communities to stop youth addiction before it starts.”
Panel discussion attendees heard from DEA Chief of Community Outreach Sean Fearns, Mayor of Huntington Steve Williams (W.Va.), Norwin School District Superintendent Dr. William Kerr (Pa.), about how legislators, educators, students and families, can access Operation Prevention’s engaging information on the warning signs of substance misuse disorder, prevention and intervention.
“Discovery Education is proud to join forces with the Drug Enforcement Administration and National League of Cities to inspire, activate and support communities as they address the opioid epidemic in their neighborhoods,” said Lori McFarling, senior vice president and chief marketing officer, Discovery Education. “We hope that the social movement we are introducing will play a role in preventing those at risk from becoming a statistic.”
In response to the rising numbers of fatalities from the opioid epidemic, NLC released the Opioid Epidemic Task Force Report – an action plan aimed to disrupt the nationwide crisis. The report revealed that a potential key to preventing the abuse of drugs was to reach children early, both in school and at home. Aligning with report findings, Operation Prevention is aimed at educating children and youth about the true impacts of prescription opioid and heroin abuse.
Each panelist offered a unique perspective, including strides they are making to combat the crisis in their respective communities, they also spoke to the importance of instating drug education at a young age. The discussion, moderated by Hall Davidson, senior director, global learning initiatives, Discovery Education, underscored the epidemic’s impact on cities across the country and best practices for effectively addressing alarming trends.
Requiring no local sponsorship or underwriting to activate, Operation Prevention is available at no-cost for use today in every school, afterschool and community-based programs in the United States. The initiative combines virtual field trips, parent resources, digital tools, and a nationwide peer-to-peer video challenge that encourages teens to create 30-60 second original public service announcements. The PSAs are designed to engage students in life-saving conversations about the science of addiction. The DEA tapped Discovery Education to help activate Operation Prevention in local communities through the Discovery Education Community, the largest professional learning community of its kind. In addition, Operation Prevention is also accessible through Discovery Education’s Streaming services.
“School districts nationwide have an absolute responsibility to do their part in countering the opioid epidemic as prescription drug abuse and addiction are taking place in every community and especially among young people,” said Dr. William Kerr, superintendent of schools, Norwin School District, Pennsylvania. “With Norwin School District being one of the first school districts in the country to pilot Operation Prevention, I am excited to attest to the program’s impact on our students of all ages and promote its implementation in even more classrooms.”
On October 25, Operation Prevention hosted On the Frontlines of the Opioid Epidemic: A Community Fighting Back – a Virtual Field Trip that transported students to Huntington, West Virginia through an engaging and immersive experience to an American city devastated by the opioid epidemic. During the Virtual Field Trip, youth heard personal stories from the city’s bravest teens and change-makers doing their part to combat the epidemic. Following the experience, educators and communities were provided access to a companion activity that helped to start a dialogue about the epidemic’s impacts.
“The opioid epidemic is tearing apart communities nationwide, and I am a first-hand witness to the problems it is causing as it has plagued my own,” said Mayor Steve Williams, Huntington, West Virginia. “After the success of the ‘On the Frontlines of the Opioid Epidemic: A Community Fighting Back’ Virtual Field Trip, broadcast live from the community its residents and I call home, I am confident that Operation Prevention is a program equipped with more than enough resources to combat this crisis one student at a time.”
Mayor Bill Partington of Ormond Beach, Florida expressed similar sentiments, “Opioid abuse is a clear danger to our society. We must work together to educate all our citizens, young and old, and implement a decisive action plan to stop the abuse of opioids.”
A year after its launch, Operation Prevention has reached over one million students today. In addition to virtual experiences and drug-free living forums, Operation Prevention conversations will also kick off in 2018 in a number of cities nationwide, including: Santa Rosa, Florida; Nashville, Tennessee; and Los Angeles, California, among others. Efforts will connect students, educators and communities to Operation Prevention work already underway to address this national crisis. Events will encourage elected officials, businesses, organizations and individuals, to take a pledge to combat opioid abuse.
The following organizations have already committed to joining Operation Prevention’s efforts to initiate life-saving conversations about drug-free living:
Afterschool Alliance: The Afterschool Alliance is a nonprofit public awareness and advocacy organization working to ensure that all children and youth have access to quality afterschool programs. The Alliance works with a broad range of organizations, supporters, and afterschool stakeholders, including: policymakers and policymaker associations, advocacy groups, afterschool coalitions, the 50 state afterschool networks, and more than 25,000 afterschool programs across the nation.
CECP “The CEO Force for Good”: CECP is a CEO-led coalition that believes that a company’s social strategy – how it engages with key stakeholders including employees, communities, investors, and customers – determines company success. The organization helps companies transform their social strategy by providing customized connections and networking, counsel and support, benchmarking and trends, and awareness building and recognition.
National Association for Secondary School Principals (NASSP): NASSP is the leading organization of and voice for principals and other school leaders across the United States. NASSP seeks to transform education through school leadership, recognizing that the fulfillment of each student's potential relies on great leaders in every school committed to the success of each student.
Social Innovation Summit (SIS): Operating at the nexus of technology, investment, philanthropy, international development, and business, SIS brings together the world’s most potent leaders, thinkers, and practitioners to catalyze inspired partnerships that will disrupt history. At the organization’s Global Summit and throughout the year, SIS’ community of thinkers comes together not just to talk about the next big thing – but to build it.
The School Superintendents Association (AASA): AASA is the professional organization for more than 13,000 educational leaders in the United States and throughout the world. AASA’s mission is to support and develop effective school system leaders who are dedicated to the highest quality public education for all children.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Corporate Citizenship Center is recognized in the corporate citizenship field as a source for fresh thinking, exceptional networking and practical lessons learned. The Foundation works to strengthen collaboration and understanding among companies, corporate foundations, chambers of commerce, NGOs, and governmental offices. As a partnership facilitator, The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Corporate Citizenship Center helps businesses find highly effective ways to invest in local communities, be responsive in times of disasters, and improve lives and livelihoods across the globe.
For more information and to take the pledge to share Operation Prevention, visit here. To learn more about Discovery Education’s digital content and professional development services, visit discoveryeducation.com. Stay connected with Discovery Education on social media through Facebook, follow us on Twitter at @DiscoveryEd, or find us on Instagram.
About the Drug Enforcement Administration
The mission of the Drug Enforcement Administration is to enforce the controlled substances laws and regulations of the United States and bring to justice those organizations and principal members of organizations, involved in the growing, manufacture, or distribution of controlled substances appearing in or destined for illicit traffic in the United States. The DEA encourages parents, along with their children, to educate themselves about the dangers of legal and illegal drugs by visiting DEA’s interactive websites at www.justthinktwice.gov, www.getsmartaboutdrugs.gov and www.dea.gov.
About Discovery Education
Discovery Education is the global leader in standards-based digital content for K-12, transforming teaching and learning with award-winning digital textbooks, multimedia content, professional development, and the largest professional learning community of its kind. Serving 4.5 million educators and more than 50 million students, Discovery Education’s services are in half of U.S. classrooms, 50 percent of all primary schools in the UK, and more than 50 countries. Discovery Education partners with districts, states, and like-minded organizations to captivate students, empower teachers, and transform classrooms with customized solutions that increase academic achievement. Discovery Education is powered by Discovery Communications (NASDAQ: DISCA, DISCB, DISCK), the number one nonfiction media company in the world. Explore the future of education at www.discoveryeducation.com.