Rible bill would bring star power to anti-drug message in NJ schools
Skateboarding pioneer Tony Hawk, designer Lauren Conrad, indie pop sensations Echosmith and Mets' Captain David Wright would be among the A-listers showing New Jersey high schoolers how to get their thrills without illegal drugs, if legislation sponsored by shore Assemblyman David Rible (R-30) is enacted.
The Wall Township Republican's bill to employ programs of the California-based non-profit Natural High won approval of the Assembly Education Committee, and awaits a full lower-house vote.
The San Diego-based Natural High has its origins with Altegris Investments CEO Jon Sundt, who embarked on an anti-drug crusade in 1994, six yers after losing one brother to an overdose, and the year he lost another to drug-related suicide.
Sensing a burnout of the "Just Say No" message that former First Lady Nancy Reagan successfully nurtured, Sundt set out to inspire students by illustrating alternative roads to thrills.
Today, Grammy-winning songwriter and actress Mya, St. Louis Cards' manager Mike Matheny, one-armed surfer Bethany Hamilton, and Paralympic medalist Dartanyon Crockett are among more than 50 notables committing their personal stories to video for national distribution through Natural High.
Under the measure, the curriculum and videos would be distributed and overseen by the New Jersey Department of Education. Students would be encouraged to organize around them. A state-designated educator would collaborate withr Natural High program coordinators to tailor presentations to match conditions in New Jersey.
Rible notes that encouraging teens to chase their passions, instead of "chasing the rabbit," can go a long way to wip out the heartbreak that thousands of families trapped in drug dependence endure.
"Through entertaining short films with star athletes and entertainers, students learn that there are drug-free options that can lead to personal happiness and professional success," Rible said. "Introducing this 'better way' can prevent disastrous falls into the darkness of addiction."