On Tuesday April 16, Informed Families, in partnership with the Orange County Drug Free Coalition, MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving), and Florida Department of Health Orange County SWAT (Students Working Against Tobacco) held an End of the School Year Youth Ambassador Drug/Alcohol Prevention Program Wrap Up.
Informed Families Blog
‘Tis the season for giving! Two Florida schools are the recipient of $1,000 each as part of Informed Families' 2016 Florida Red Ribbon Week Photo Contest. Gabriela Sanchez of Miami won an iPad for her family and $1,000 for Good Shepherd Catholic School. Paola Stauffer, an administrator at Orlando Science Elementary School, won an iPad for herself and $1,000 for her school.
The contest took place as a part of National Red Ribbon Week ® – the nation’s oldest and largest drug prevention campaign, sponsored by the National Family Partnership (NFP). During the month of October, the Sanchez family decorated their home front door and Paola Stauffer worked with her Orlando Science Elementary School community to decorate the school's campus with this year’s Red Ribbon Week theme, “YOLO. Be Drug Free™.” All this was done to promote their commitment to living a healthy and drug-free lifestyle.
“I loved decorating my home with a drug free message,” said Gabriela Sanchez, a teacher and mother of two children who attend Good Shepherd Catholic School. “The contest is an activity that brings families together and it’s a positive message. Not only did we decorate, but we talked to our children about how important it is for them to stay away from drugs. We discussed what to do if they are ever in the position where they are offered drugs.”
Summertime & The Livin' Is Easy...Or is it?Stress, anxiety, anger, violence and road rage are words that describe the current vibe. How do we deal with the overwhelming negative environments that confront us daily, either on the news or in our own neighborhoods?
It makes us sad and depressed to see the senseless loss of lives in Orlando (bless those families) and in shootings in neighborhoods across Florida. Has the world gone crazy? Maybe. It is time that we each ask ourselves, “how am I contributing to this craziness?” Is this catching? The answer is yes.
Our children are listening and watching us to see how they should act and react to all this distressing news. Here are some tips for how to help our kids through tough times.
Melanie Williams, a mother of four and an active PTSA volunteer in Orlando, wants to do everything she can to protect her children and others in the community from the devastating consequences associated with drug abuse and addiction.
“Drug prevention is so important because drug abuse is so silently dangerous,” said Williams. “It’s easy for kids to get involved with drugs and it’s so damaging to the body; it destroys lives.”
Williams, a mother of four boys ages 10, 13, 15 and 16, became involved with Informed Families after being invited by a school guidance counselor to attend an Informed Families Parent Peer Group Leader training in Orange County last November.
“The material at the training was mind boggling,” said Melanie. “I learned so much. I’m an involved parent with kids in three different schools. And yet some of the stuff from the training, I really had no clue about. I asked my 16-year-old son, ‘do you know about this?’ He said, ‘yes.’ Attending the training was truly transformative for me. I realized that I need to pay more attention to what my children are learning and what they are exposed to.”
"Connectors" are dedicated volunteers who share Informed Families' prevention message with their vast network of contacts to help expand the organization's reach. Deborah Montilla, executive director of the Miami-Dade County Public Schools' Division of Student Services and Vice Chairman of the Informed Families Board of Trustees, is a Connector extraordinaire and this month's spotlighted Connector.
Sonia Ledger, Student Assistance and Family Empowerment Coordinator at Cypress Creek High School in Orlando, works with a team of 12-15 student volunteers to deliver Informed Families' year-round prevention messages to their peers at every possible opportunity.
"We educate students and parents together during parent nights, we establish a presence at football games and other events, and we've even interacted with audience members during intermission at school plays," says Ledger. "We want to reach people where they are."
Sonia is being recognized in our Ambassador Spotlight for her commitment and success in educating and empowering over 3,000 students at the high school each year.
Ledger participates in each campaign and works with her teen volunteers to creatively and strategically navigate the school environment to reach as many students and parents as possible. Ledger possesses the will, drive and determination to prevent students from engaging in substance abuse and other risky behaviors. Furthermore, Ledger's passion for the work inspires us to continue to provide the best resources possible to our Ambassadors.
Whenever a new Informed Families Ambassador Tool Kit becomes available, Sonia can hardly contain her excitement.
"I'm very enthusiastic about receiving the latest toolkit," says Ledger, who is in her second year as an Ambassador at Cypress Creek High School in Orlando. "There's so much great information that you provide and I love the campaign materials."
Thank you, Sonia, for your dedication to helping kids grow up safe, healthy and drug free.