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Family Focus: The Polewski Family

Posted by Informed Families on January 23, 2019 at 11:08 AM

“A lot of people look at addicted individuals as people who lie, steal and hurt others,” said Katie Polewski. “This was not the case with my son. He always told me the truth. I knew he was struggling when he avoided me because he couldn’t lie.”

While he started his journey of drug use with marijuana, on the night that he died, Katie’s son Derrek was using heroin. He was ready to get sober and was attempting to wean himself off the drug to reduce withdrawal symptoms. Even though he used a tiny dose that night, the heroin contained fentanyl, which is significantly more potent and often deadly.

Katie Polewski lost her son Derrek on January 16, 2016 after a long battle with addiction.

“I believe that whether or not a child starts using drugs has a lot to do with friends they make, choices they make and not being aware of the dangers,” said Polewski. “I can’t express how important it is for awareness and prevention. All three of my kids were different. They had completely different personalities and they were all raised the same…with unconditional love.”

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Topics: drug use, drug prevention, opioids, parents

President's Message - January 2019

Posted by Peggy B. Sapp, President & CEO on January 23, 2019 at 10:50 AM

5 Steps To Creating A Happy & Healthy Family In 2019

Have you seen Informed Families’ Lock Your Meds signs at your local Publix Pharmacy store? Through our amazing partnership with Publix Pharmacy, we are reaching roughly 1.2 million people in 720 stores across Florida and 397 in the Southeastern US with the Lock Your Meds message. Wow!

A happy and healthy family starts when you create a safe and healthy environment for children.  This includes securing your medication, taking regular inventory to ensure nothing is missing and safely disposing of unused or expired medication.  

Also, keep tabs on your liquor cabinet - and resist unhealthy social norms that make you feel bad for not “teaching your child to drink” at home. The research shows that children who start drinking before age 15 are 5 times more likely to have alcohol problems at adults.

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Topics: President's Message, parents, family dinner, family bonding, lock your meds, safe homes smart parties, alcohol, marijuana, parenting

Informed Families Welcomes Outstanding New Board Members

Posted by Informed Families on January 22, 2019 at 8:41 PM

Three new trustees represent organizations with a long-standing commitment to prevention.

Jessi Berrin serves as Director of Development for Baptist Health South Florida, the largest not-for-profit healthcare organization in the South Florida region spanning Monroe, Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties. She is responsible for a comprehensive and robust development program with an emphasis on donor-driven philanthropy to support South Florida’s brand new, state-of-the-art Miami Cancer Institute. Jessi graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Florida in May 2007, with a Bachelor’s Degree in Telecommunications and an outside concentration in Business Administration. Shortly after graduating, Jessi landed a position as an Associate Producer at WPLG, Local 10 News in Miami, Florida where she wrote and produced the morning news program. In 2012, Jessi officially became a “Double Gator” by receiving a Master’s in Business Administration from The University of Florida. Berrin joined the IF Board of Trustees in January.

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Topics: volunteer, drug prevention, prevention, Informed Families

Let's Shatter The Myths About Drug Use

Posted by Informed Families on January 17, 2019 at 6:02 PM

Help youth make choices about their health based on facts, not myths.

Myths about drugs and drug use are pervasive, and for young people, it can be challenging to separate fact from fiction. Popular culture can make smoking appear commonplace. But the reality is that fewer teens than ever before are smoking cigarettes. In general, young adults tend to perceive their peers as exhibiting higher rates of drug use than what is actually occurring. Data from the 2017 Monitoring the Future study tells part of the promising story; past-year misuse of prescription opioids among 12th graders has dropped dramatically in the past 15 years, from nearly 10 percent in 2002 to 2 percent in 2017. And according to data from the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, only 1 in 100 young adults between the ages of 12 and 17 currently misuse prescription opioids.

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Topics: drug prevention, drug use, parents

Students Earn $1,000 For Their Schools In South Florida Red Ribbon Video Contest

Posted by Informed Families on December 19, 2018 at 8:10 PM

This October, students in Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Monroe Counties competed for the title of Best Red Ribbon Week video in the Informed Families South Florida Red Ribbon Week Video Contest. The goal of the contest was for student leaders to inspire other students to make healthy choices around drugs and alcohol use in a 1-3 minute video featuring the 2018 Red Ribbon Week theme: Life Is Your Journey. Travel Drug Free.

Informed Families is thrilled to announce the two winning schools and the talented students whose works were selected by a small group of judges representing the field of media, education and prevention. 

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Topics: red ribbon week, red ribbon, drug prevention, red ribbon video contest

President's Message - December 2018

Posted by Peggy B. Sapp, President & CEO on December 18, 2018 at 12:11 PM

Every time we share this, we received such a positive response. I think we can all use a reminder of our most precious gifts.

People Are Gifts Sent To Me Wrapped

People Are Gifts Sent To Me Wrapped!
Some are wrapped beautifully;
They are attractive when I first see them.

Some come in very ordinary wrapping paper.
Others have been mishandled in the mail.
Once in a while there is a “Special Delivery.”

Some persons are gifts which come very loosely wrapped;
Others very tightly.

But the wrapping is not the gift!
It is easy to make that mistake…
It is amusing when babies do it.

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Topics: President's Message, parents

Orlando School Wins National Red Ribbon Photo Contest

Posted by Informed Families on December 6, 2018 at 2:45 PM

On December 3, the National Family Partnership (NFP) announced 20 winners of its 8th Annual National Red Ribbon Week Photo Contest. One Florida school, Orlando Science Charter School was named the Region 2 school entry winner for receiving the most votes in the Southeastern United States in support of its photo. 

To participate in the contest, families and schools across the country decorated either their homes or school campuses with this year’s Red Ribbon theme: “Life is Your Journey. Travel Drug Free.” A total of $20,000 will be awarded to K-12 schools, which includes 10 winners who received the most votes in their region and 10 winners who were selected for Judges Awards. The families and individuals who entered on behalf of the schools will also receive an ipad.

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Topics: red ribbon week, red ribbon, red ribbon photo contest, drug prevention

2018 Red Ribbon Week Highlights

Posted by Informed Families on November 18, 2018 at 11:43 AM

It's been 30 years since the first ever National Red Ribbon Week, which was organized by the National Family Partnership. This year's National Red Ribbon theme was  "Life Is Your Journey. Travel Drug Free" - and to Red Ribbon's founders, building, sustaining and growing the campaign has been a true journey!

It all started after the tragic kidnapping, torture and murder of DEA Special Agent Kiki Camarena in 1985. His friends and family started wearing Red Ribbons as a symbol in support of drug free lifestyles. Thanks to the Parents Movement and the various organizations, such as Informed Families, around the country who felt the same way, Red Ribbon picked up steam and became a national event in 1988. 

Each year, students across America come up with ideas for Red Ribbon Week themes. This year's theme, "Life Is Your Journey. Travel Drug Free," came from a student in Solon, Ohio. Informed Families delivered the theme and Red Ribbon activities and materials through our partnership with volunteer Ambassadors, agencies, organizations and businesses, leveraging resources and reaching more children and families with prevention messages.

Here are some highlights from 2018 Red Ribbon Week:

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Topics: red ribbon week, red ribbon, red ribbon photo contest, drug prevention

President's Message - November 2018

Posted by Peggy B. Sapp, President & CEO on November 16, 2018 at 5:23 PM

THANKSGIVING OR EXCESS?

Thanksgiving used to be a time to gather with family and reflect on all of our blessings. We appreciated things, like a roof over our head, food on the table, clothes on our back and a country not at war.

Then, Thanksgiving became a time to eat and drink too much, drive ourselves crazy trying to please our guests or get along with our hosts and prepare for the shopper’s high we get from Black Friday

Families of origin aren’t always healthy or easy to spent time with! I saw a comic recently featuring a “Convention of Adult Children of Normal Parents.” There were three people attending. Ha! Many of us have at least one trauma from childhood and complicated relationships with a sibling or another family member. 

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Topics: President's Message, children, thanksgiving, gratitude, family bonding

Family Focus: The Strunck Family

Posted by Informed Families on November 16, 2018 at 10:51 AM

Written by: Nikki Strunck, mother

The sixth overdose was fatal. My only child Brendan died at the age of 24.

He and some friends started messing around with pot when he was 13. By the age of 14, he got oxycodone pills from a friend, and by 16, he was addicted to heroin.

I grieved for my son for years before he died. As difficult as talking about this is, if I can help one person not die, this is worth it.

I think when Brendan was small, I thought he would try drinking and smoking pot. I was not prepared for opioid abuse.

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Topics: drug use, drug prevention, opioids, parents

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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