Notes From the CEO: Setting the Foundation For a Safe & Successful School Year

A few brief thoughts from LEAD CEO, Andy Duran

Dear Friend of LEAD,

As we transition into a new school year, our hearts are filled with hope, our minds with plans, and our spirits with the communal drive to create a better future for our children. At LEAD, we recognize that every fresh academic year is not just an opportunity for our children to grow academically but also socially and emotionally. However, as enriching as this period can be, it also comes with its own set of challenges and risks, especially regarding substance abuse and mental health.

The Power of Prevention

Parents and caregivers are the first line of defense for safeguarding our children from the risks associated with drugs, alcohol, and poor mental health. Prevention starts at home; simple actions like maintaining open lines of communication can have an exponential impact.

  • Talk Early and Often: You don’t need to have a “big talk” about drugs or mental health. Small, frequent discussions can make the biggest impact. Many of you have heard us say that “Sixty, one-minute conversations will have a far greater impact than having one sixty-minute conversation.” I encourage you to sit with that for a minute as it relates to conversations you may have with your teen.
  • Set Boundaries: Clear guidelines give children a framework within which they can operate safely. Lay out your expectations regarding substances and ensure there are known, reasonable consequences for breaking the rules.
  • Know their Friends: Peer influence can be both positive and negative. Take some time to get to know your children’s friends and their parents.
  • Stay Engaged: It might be tough with busy schedules, but try to be physically present both at events and in your own home, and emotionally present when you talk to your kids.

We believe that it takes a village to raise a child. Schools, neighborhoods, and communities can reinforce the values and lessons we impart at home. LEAD is committed to engaging communities in productive conversations about drug prevention and mental health strategies.

  • Join or Form Support Groups: Sometimes, wisdom lies in shared experiences. Parent support groups can offer valuable insights into raising children in this challenging age. Please let us know if you are looking for one.
  • Attend Workshops: LEAD and other organizations frequently offer workshops and information sessions on substance abuse prevention and mental health. The more you know, the more effective you can be at helping your children navigate these challenges. Stay tuned for an upcoming schedule featuring many opportunities coming up during this school year.
  • Be a Role Model: If you demonstrate a healthy lifestyle and coping mechanisms, your children are more likely to adopt these themselves.

Moving Forward

As we embark on this academic year, let’s commit to being vigilant, proactive, and engaged in our children’s lives. While there are no guarantees in life, a collective approach—where parents and the community work hand in hand—greatly increases the odds of successfully guiding our children through these formative years.

Thank you for being an essential part of this journey. Together, we can build a safety net of prevention and support that will help our children not just to navigate but to thrive in the challenging landscape of adolescence.

Best regards,
Andy Duran, CEO

P.S. Feel free to share your thoughts, suggestions, or questions with us. Your input is invaluable as we continually strive to improve and serve our community better.

Stay Safe, Stay Engaged!


National Recovery Month
National Recovery Month

September is Recovery Month

Every September, we come together to observe Recovery Month, a time when we unite to promote and support evidence-based treatment and recovery methods. It’s a time to shine a spotlight on our resilient and thriving recovery communities while honoring the tireless dedication of service providers who play a pivotal role in facilitating recovery in all its diverse forms.

This year’s theme is “Hope is Real. Recovery is Real.”

Nearly 60 million Americans identify as being in recovery from substance use and mental health conditions1. Recovery Month is a great opportunity to work together to make a difference in the lives of those in or seeking recovery from mental and substance use disorders. Join us as we honor and celebrate Recovery Month!

Learn More about National Recovery Month here.

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