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TIPS FOR REACHING OUT TO SCHOOLS

Thank you for bringing greater awareness of fentapills to your community by reaching out to your school district to ask them to roll out some new drug education.

Schools are busy places with many competing priorities. They have limited resources to do everything that is asked of them. They may not be set up to take quick action on a real-time problem that they did not factor into their routine planning and multi-year curriculum design processes. Further, officials can often be wary of political or hidden agendas. That’s why it’s important to consider this a partnership: first educating yourself and then educating the school district so that they can in turn educate the community of parents and students. In this effort we all have the same goal: to serve and protect our precious children through education. Keeping in mind this idea of partnership, we’ve devised the PAIR approach. Every school district and community are different, so use this approach as a general guide… and do what works for you. You do not need to follow all of these steps, but we hope you get some good ideas from this!

To view a recorded webinar about Convincing Schools to Raise Awareness about Fake Pills, click here. 

If you have questions about this process, or suggestions on how to improve it, contact jennifer@songforcharlie.org. Please also email us if you have success in getting this material into your local schools—we want to know how you are doing!

Help us keep track of what schools and districts you're reaching out to by adding to our School District Contact Tracker.

 

Good luck & thank you for helping to spread awareness!

The PAIR Approach

Plan, find Allies, Identify what you want, & Request action.

PLAN

Educate yourself


Make sure you have a good understanding of what is happening with the drug landscape in America with the introduction of fentanyl so you are able to competently and confidently speak to the issues. Some good resources:




Personal Story


Are you a bereaved parent yourself or have a close friend or family member who is? Personal stories have huge impact. Think about if and how you want to tell that story as part of this effort in a way that makes the impact you are looking for and respects your child and family. Decide what aspects of your story you are not willing to share or are not important to the main message.




Local News


Locate one or more relatively recent news stories from your own community or those nearby (google ‘fentanyl’ and your city or state). The more current and specific the story is about age, Fentapills, social media, etc., the better. Save these web links.




Data


Find key data points and information about fentanyl/fentapills from reputable places that support the idea that this is needed in your community. If you can access local data and information through your local health department or law enforcement, that is ideal. Also be on the lookout for specific data points in local news articles. Songforcharlie.org is a good place for national numbers. Here are some links that can help you find national and state insights:




Existing curriculum


If your school district publishes their learning standards and/or curriculum, find out what is already included on this topic. If you have a teacher contact that teaches health curriculum, they can help you find this. It can be helpful if you know the specific learning standard/target you are trying to influence (i.e.: “Educate students on the social and health impacts of misuse of controlled substances”). If you can get your hands on classroom content, it is helpful to know if it specifically covers fake pills that can easily bought on social media so you know if there is a gap in the existing curriculum being taught in your schools.




Intro


A little time planning can go a long way and give you much more success than just forwarding a mail or a link. Think through these topics and be sure to do your research.





ALLY IDENTIFICATION

Educate yourself


Make sure you have a good understanding of what is happening with the drug landscape in America with the introduction of fentanyl so you are able to competently and confidently speak to the issues. Some good resources:




Personal Story


Are you a bereaved parent yourself or have a close friend or family member who is? Personal stories have huge impact. Think about if and how you want to tell that story as part of this effort in a way that makes the impact you are looking for and respects your child and family. Decide what aspects of your story you are not willing to share or are not important to the main message.




Local News


Locate one or more relatively recent news stories from your own community or those nearby (google ‘fentanyl’ and your city or state). The more current and specific the story is about age, Fentapills, social media, etc., the better. Save these web links.




Data


Find key data points and information about fentanyl/fentapills from reputable places that support the idea that this is needed in your community. If you can access local data and information through your local health department or law enforcement, that is ideal. Also be on the lookout for specific data points in local news articles. Songforcharlie.org is a good place for national numbers. Here are some links that can help you find national and state insights:




Existing curriculum


If your school district publishes their learning standards and/or curriculum, find out what is already included on this topic. If you have a teacher contact that teaches health curriculum, they can help you find this. It can be helpful if you know the specific learning standard/target you are trying to influence (i.e.: “Educate students on the social and health impacts of misuse of controlled substances”). If you can get your hands on classroom content, it is helpful to know if it specifically covers fake pills that can easily bought on social media so you know if there is a gap in the existing curriculum being taught in your schools.




Intro


A little time planning can go a long way and give you much more success than just forwarding a mail or a link. Think through these topics and be sure to do your research.





IDENTIFY WHAT YOU WANT

Instruction


Getting messages in front of kids directly is probably the most impactful thing that can happen. Are you envisioning classroom instruction for students? Will the instruction cover fentapills, social media dangers, stress management, etc? The developed curriculum from Beaverton School District is focused on fentapills and is free and ‘ready to go’ for schools including lesson plans, classroom aids, etc.




Community conversation


Would you like to broadly educate parents and teachers? Do you see that as a Zoom seminar with other experts? Are you willing to share your story in this forum? Is there an existing drug awareness night that you could participate in? The BSD Fake & Fatal website has a YouTube recording of the 90 minute Community Conversation in English and Spanish.




Awareness campaign


Are you looking for the school to provide public service announcements on their website/social media , include information in parent newsletters, create fliers for students to hand out at lunch? Who is the target of this campaign? Has the school district done something like this before that you could use as a model? Is one of the other agencies you may have reached out to, such as law enforcement or public health, better positioned to do public awareness? If there is a way for the awareness campaign to include students talking to students in their own language, there is a greater chance the message will be heard by them.




Intro


This is a big topic and there are many actions and potential avenues to make an impact. Before you make a formal request, think about and identify what you are really after. New legislation, rallies, or geo-political topics like Chinese fentanyl, Mexican cartels, or social media regulation aren’t going anywhere with schools. Here are some possible ideas for things to request of your schools based on the work done with Beaverton School District where all three of these things happened:





REQUEST AND RESPOND

Instruction


Getting messages in front of kids directly is probably the most impactful thing that can happen. Are you envisioning classroom instruction for students? Will the instruction cover fentapills, social media dangers, stress management, etc? The developed curriculum from Beaverton School District is focused on fentapills and is free and ‘ready to go’ for schools including lesson plans, classroom aids, etc.




Community conversation


Would you like to broadly educate parents and teachers? Do you see that as a Zoom seminar with other experts? Are you willing to share your story in this forum? Is there an existing drug awareness night that you could participate in? The BSD Fake & Fatal website has a YouTube recording of the 90 minute Community Conversation in English and Spanish.




Awareness campaign


Are you looking for the school to provide public service announcements on their website/social media , include information in parent newsletters, create fliers for students to hand out at lunch? Who is the target of this campaign? Has the school district done something like this before that you could use as a model? Is one of the other agencies you may have reached out to, such as law enforcement or public health, better positioned to do public awareness? If there is a way for the awareness campaign to include students talking to students in their own language, there is a greater chance the message will be heard by them.




Intro


This is a big topic and there are many actions and potential avenues to make an impact. Before you make a formal request, think about and identify what you are really after. New legislation, rallies, or geo-political topics like Chinese fentanyl, Mexican cartels, or social media regulation aren’t going anywhere with schools. Here are some possible ideas for things to request of your schools based on the work done with Beaverton School District where all three of these things happened:





  • Typically the decisions about curriculum are done at a district level, not at a school level. When requesting action, make sure you are contacting the decision makers- perhaps the superintendent or head of curriculum. While a principal or health teacher can be an ally, they in most cases will not be able to make a decision for you.
     

  • Letters should be a balance of emotion and facts. Be concise when sharing your story, and spend most of your letter providing data supporting how fentanyl is affecting your community and describing what you are asking for.
     

  • Be careful of your wording. Discussing drugs can be a trigger for many people, in a good way or bad. We suggest using some of the following wording in order to most effectively gain empathy from the reader.

Tips for Writing Your Letter

Download Example Letter