Florida school district to launch fentanyl awareness campaign

Florida school district to launch fentanyl awareness campaign

(NewsNation) — School districts across South Florida are working to educate students and families about a drug epidemic plaguing the nation.

Miami-Dade Public Schools announced that they’re launching a new district-wide Fentanyl Awareness Campaign starting next week. The campaign’s goal is to educate South Florida students about a subject that can’t be found in textbooks. Students will learn the signs of overdose and how to administer Narcan.

Fentanyl overdoses among teens aged 14-18 increased by 94% from 2019 to 2023, and Florida was ranked second in the nation for fentanyl-related deaths this year, according to the FDA.

“One pill can kill,” said Miami-Dade School Board Chair Maria Teresa Rojas.

The slogan resonates nationwide, as new data from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency reveals that 7 out of 10 pills seized by the DEA contain a lethal dose of fentanyl.

“It really guts you as a person and you almost can’t get out of bed,” said Greg Swan.

The battle against fentanyl holds a personal significance for Swan, whose son, Drew, lost his life due to a fentanyl overdose at the age of 24. He said his son believed he was consuming a different substance.

“I got a call from my son Jack — “Dad, are you sitting down?” — 12:30 at night. “Dad, are you sitting down?” I said, I’m sitting down, Jack.” He said, “Drew’s dead.” I mean my world was shattered,” Swan recalled.

To spare other parents from enduring the same pain, Swan established Fentanyl Fathers. The nonprofit organization has partnered with Miami-Dade County Public Schools and serves other organizations to initiate the Fentanyl Awareness Campaign.

“So many deaths. So many children with a future ahead of them that they will no longer materialize,” Rojas said.

From Los Angeles to Denver, and now in Miami-Dade County, school districts are stocking up on Narcan, a medication that swiftly reverses opioid overdoses.

At least 33 states have laws permitting schools or school employees to carry, store or administer this life-saving medication, according to legal experts.

“It’s not heavy drug users. That’s not the problem at all. It’s people that are trying for the first time,” said Stella McClaney, a high school senior, who serves as the co-founder of Students Advocating Fentanyl Education, also known as SAFE.

“We want our peers to know not to take pills from a friend,” she said.

Last week, McClaney spoke to Miami Beach commissioners shedding light on the escalating problem among her peers.

“The last text her son had with this drug dealer was her son being like, “Hey, is this actually oxy?” He was concerned, too. But sadly, he still took it and it happened to be fentanyl, and that was his last text,” McClaney explained.

McClaney said she carries Narcan in her backpack when she’s at school and even takes it with her to functions and parties. It’s become as common as carrying pepper spray these days, according to McClaney.

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