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NIDA. (2011, December 15). With Science and Songs, Students Celebrate National Drug Facts Week . Retrieved from

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Sara Bellum
December 15 2011
Mario Barrett

The second annual National Drug Facts Week was in full swing on November 2 at the House of Sweden at a hallmark event for NIDA’s 2011 health observance in Washington, DC.

More than 100 high school students from 7 schools in the District of Columbia and Baltimore, MD, attended the “Drug Facts Rally” headlined by NIDA Director Nora D. Volkow, M.D., and Grammy-nominated R&B recording artist Mario Barrett. Other students participated in the event via Skype from the Baltimore Mayor’s office.

Ask Anything

Attendees had the unique opportunity to interact directly with Dr. Volkow, asking their most pressing questions about drugs and addiction during an energetic Q&A session. Dr. Volkow also answered two questions submitted from students in Sweden. (To read other questions from high school students and the answers direct from NIDA scientists, read NIDA’s 2011 Drug Facts Chat Day transcript.)

After speaking with NIDA’s Director, the students broke into small group sessions to show off their knowledge in a Jeopardy-style trivia game with peer health educators from the George Washington University Center for Alcohol and Other Drug Education [page removed].

Using Music To Send a Message

One of the day’s most memorable moments came when Mario Barrett took the stage. He surprised an attendee who had been invited to sing a few lines from one of his songs by joining her in the second verse.

Originally from Baltimore, MD, Mario grew up with a mother who was addicted to drugs. He was exposed to violence, gangs, and drugs on a daily basis. Eventually, he rose to the top of the R&B charts with songs like “Just a Friend 2002” and “Let Me Love You.”

With a goal of giving back, he uses his Mario Do Right Foundation to mentor and support the children of substance abusing parents. He strives to create a support system that he didn’t have for much of his childhood.

T-Shirt Contest Winners

Miss DC International, Dr. Allison Hill, a certified pharmacist, attended the event to help announce the winners of a t-shirt contest sponsored by international fashion retailer H&M and the Mentor Foundation USA. The contest challenged District of Columbia high school students to design a slogan to express what motivates them to stay drug free now and in the future.

The following students, all from the César Chávez Public Charter Schools for Public Policy–Parkside, won the competition: 1st place: Damani Johnson 2nd Place: Temple Reed 3rd Place: Tina Starr

Each attendee received a t-shirt featuring Damani Johnson’s winning slogan, which read: Front: I’M > DRUGS Back: I’M GREATER THAN DRUGS BREATHE IN COMMON SENSE, EXHALE IGNORANCE STAY POSITIVE, TEST NEGATIVE STAY DRUG FREE,

Besides the t-shirt and loads of facts about drug abuse and healthy choices, attendees also had the opportunity to take away photos of the event. Students also could visit a video booth to give a shoutout about why they are drug free and what they learned during the day to shatter the myths about drug abuse.

Now we want to hear from you as well. Hit the comments below and tell us your personal slogan against drug abuse or give us a shoutout about why you’re drug free.

Embassy of Sweden Event Partners: