Informed Families Blog

President's Message - July 2017

Posted by Peggy B. Sapp, President & CEO on July 19, 2017 at 5:03 PM

Visible & Invisible "Human Chains" Save Lives

To save a desperate, drowning family, 80 Florida citizens made a human chain on Panama City Beach in early July. What a beautiful reminder that by working together, we all have the power to keep children and families safe. News reports spoke of the dozens of beachgoers lining up in response to the desperate mother’s cries, organizing themselves by skill level, with the stronger swimmers in the deeper water and others standing closer to the shore.

A tragedy was prevented and the story spread like wildfire. Why? Because the story warmed our hearts. Who doesn’t love a story about a large group of complete strangers coming together to save children in danger?

That’s what Informed Families’ supporters do each year…they build a network of people to help kids grow up safe, healthy and drug free.  Donors, volunteer Ambassadors, educators, counselors, parents, schools, law enforcement and community organizations form networks to take our four campaigns and prevention messages to schools, building safety nets for children across Florida.

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Topics: President's Message, drug abuse, drug prevention, parents, summer

[Press Release] Schools and Organizations Named Informed Families All Stars

Posted by Informed Families on June 21, 2017 at 8:00 AM

16 Florida Schools and Organizations Named Informed Families All Stars for Their Efforts to Prevent Teen Drug and Alcohol Use

Informed Families, a Florida nonprofit devoted to helping kids grow up safe, healthy and drug-free, is proud to announce its All Star Schools for 2017. Sixteen Florida schools and organizations received the honor for this school year.

Informed Families created the All Star program to recognize the success schools and community organizations are achieving through drug and alcohol prevention efforts. To be eligible for All Star status, schools must complete the four prevention campaigns Informed Families sponsors throughout the school year:

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Topics: all star schools

5 Reasons Why You Need to Highlight Student Achievement

Posted by Informed Families on June 21, 2017 at 8:00 AM

What is student achievement? Ask different people and you get different answers.

Some might define student achievement in purely academic terms: test scores, grades, the quality of colleges that teens attend after they graduate high school. 

Others might look beyond grades to things such as varsity letters, perfect attendance or simply earning the diploma.

Still others take a different tack on student achievement: community service, successfully participating in anti-drinking or anti-bullying campaigns, organizing a safe and fun prom.

No matter how you define student achievement (and, indeed, many educators define it in multiple ways), highlighting success should be a focus in every school and every school district. Here are five reasons why:

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Topics: Student Success

President's Message - June 2017

Posted by Peggy B. Sapp, President & CEO on June 20, 2017 at 11:33 AM

Unplug To Connect With Your Children This Summer

Summer offers a sense of freedom for kids. With school out of session, children gain a great deal of free time. As parents you take on more responsibility; it’s your responsibility to keep children active physically and mentally and to not leave them to their own devices. While some boredom is good for the teen brain, excessive free time can increase their risk to get involved in harmful behaviors.

Did you know that summer is the riskiest time of the year for teens and drugs? Research shows that more teens try marijuana and other drugs for the first time in June and July than any other time of the year. 

As your first priority, plan time to just have fun together, connecting as a family. Turn off the Media madness (that means you too!) and play a game. You’ll be surprised how much fun it is. Plus, it will reduce your stress and increase bonding, as you learn more about each person in the family. Spending time together walking, swimming or hiking outdoors is also a great chance to stay fit and connected. If one activity turns disasterous, try another one. Don't give up on connecting with your children.  

Communicate with your kids about the things they want to do this summer. Open them up to positive activities such as a sport, community serivce or have them take additional summer classes to keep their minds sharp and vibrant. Don’t allow their minds to become addicted to screens. And monitor what they are consuming when they are watching screens. Common Sense Media is a wonderful, time-saving tool.

If you have two minutes to spare, we'd love to get your feedback on issues that matter to you, as we are always striving to offer you the best research-based support to help your kids grow up safe, healthy and drug free.

I want to take a moment to express my gratitude for all the wonderful dads out there. I hope you had a great Father's Day. 

Until next time,



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Topics: President's Message, marijuana, drug abuse, parents, summer

Introducing the Informed Families 2017 All Star Schools

Posted by Informed Families on June 13, 2017 at 3:36 PM

Another school year has concluded in Florida - and students around the state are graduating high school or moving on to the next grade. The end of the school year also means something else near and dear to Informed Families: the selection of the All Star Schools.

What a year 2016-17 was for us! We bestowed All Star status upon 16 schools and organizations. Moreover, we worked with schools in all 67 counties across the state to implement anti-drug and anti-alcohol campaigns and provide information to help teens makes smart choices and stay safe.

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Topics: all star schools

Why Do Kids Use Drugs?

Posted by Informed Families on June 7, 2017 at 8:00 AM

Anti-drug messages aimed at kids are nothing new—most of today’s parents were children themselves when the first wave of “Just Say No” campaigns were launched in the 1980s. And in the last three decades or so, the efforts of parents, educators, communities and organizations such as Informed Families have made a noticeable and welcome dent in the problem of teen drug use. 

Still, much work still needs to be done to keep our kids safe and inspire them to make smart choices. The fact that teen drug use remains a problem might lead many to ask why, after all the campaigns, warnings and anti-drug efforts, do kids still choose to use drugs. The tempting answer might be, “They’re teens and don’t know better.” However, it’s not that simple. Below, we detail a variety of reasons why some kids use drugs in 2017.

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Topics: drug abuse, drug prevention

President's Message - May 2017

Posted by Peggy B. Sapp, President & CEO on May 24, 2017 at 6:29 PM

The Secret To Our Success Is You & Making Protective Factors A Reality

There’s really nothing like Informed Families’ Annual Dinner at Joe’s Stone Crab Restaurant.  Joe’s is a Miami institution known throughout the world as the place to see and be seen! During stone crab season (October-May), customers wait in line for hours just to experience their amazing stone crabs, cole slaw, hash browns and famous key lime pie.

Our first stone crab dinner was the idea of Informed Families’ Board member Dorothy Shula, the late wife of Don Shula, former head coach of the Miami Dolphins. Jo Anne Sawitz Bass and her son Steve Sawitz hosted our first Joe’s dinner 32 years ago, which was the beginning of a wonderful friendship and partnership. The restaurant closes to the public at the very end of stone crab season and opens its doors to friends of Informed Families for one night to help Florida’s children grow up safe, healthy and drug free.

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Topics: President's Message, parents, protective factors

It's Summer! How Family Rules Keep Kids Out of Trouble

Posted by Informed Families on May 24, 2017 at 8:00 AM

Summertime! And for Florida parents with teens, often, the livin’ is not easy….

According to SAMHSA, more teenagers start drinking and smoking cigarettes and marijuana in June and July than in any other months. Parents, who are challenged enough to keep tabs of where their kids are and what they are doing between September and May, find it especially difficult to do so in June, July and August.

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Topics: family rules

32nd Annual Dinner At Joe's: A Huge Success

Posted by Informed Families on May 18, 2017 at 2:14 PM

Raising in excess of $200,000 to support Informed Families' programs to help kids grow up safe, healthy and drug free across Florida, the 32nd Annual Informed Families Dinner at Joe's Stone Crab Restaurant was a tremendous success. Long-time supporters and event co-chairs Pam Giganti-Bunge & Alfred Bunge and Dr. Linda Neider & Dr. Paul Sugrue pulled out all the stops to make the dinner the best yet.

This year’s theme was "Communities that Care," reflecting the importance and power of communities in working together to stop the spread of drug use, especially the devastating current opioid epidemic.

Aside from Informed Families, the big winner of the night was dedicated supporter Sara Herald, who won the raffle for dinner for 20 guests at Joe's Stone Crab Restaurant. Guests enjoyed a wonderful street party prior to enjoying Joe's delicious stone crabs among old friends.

Informed Families has partnered with Joe’s Stone Crab Restaurant for over three decades to help keep children in South Florida and beyond safe, healthy and drug free. Many of the annual event attendees have regularly attended since the first dinner in 1985.

The event's success is the result of the dedication and generosity of the following sponsors:

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Topics: Joe's Stone Crab, Peggy Sapp, Florida, fundraiser

Teen Drug Facts: The Dangers of OTC Drug Abuse

Posted by Informed Families on May 17, 2017 at 8:00 AM

Parents, schools and communities often are hyper-focused on alcohol and illegal drug use, and rightfully so—these substances, when abused, can cause great harm to teenagers. Yet, this emphasis often causes parents to overlook another problem: over-the-counter (OTC) drug abuse.

When not able to secure booze or harder drugs such as marijuana or prescription pills, teens might turn to OTC medications to attempt a high. Or, kids might try chugging cough syrup or taking motion sickness pills thinking neither can hurt them; after all, these are medicines you can buy at the store.

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Topics: drug abuse

About Us

We teach people how to say no to drugs and how to make healthy choices. To reduce the demand for drugs, Informed Families has focused its efforts on educating and mobilizing the community, parents and young people in order to change attitudes. In this way we counteract the pressures in society that condone and promote drug and alcohol use and abuse. The organization educates thousands of families annually about how to stay drug and alcohol free through networking and a variety of programs and services .

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