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Press Release | April 10, 2018

Fighting the Drug Epidemic Using Prevention and Positivity with Local Teens

Contacts: Michaela Pratt, Mentor Foundation USA
(571) 458-7051 |
Tracey Lynn Shifflett, S.A.F.E. Project
(301) 602-8688 |

WASHINGTON, D.C. APRIL 10, 2018 — On April 11, Mentor Foundation USA will host 200 DC-area high school students at the House of Sweden for a day-long event to help “shatter the myths” around drug misuse. Students will interact with a top U.S. scientist from the National Institutes of Health and inspiring guest speakers.

As the United States faces the worst drug epidemic in its history, responses like the President’s proposed death penalty for drug dealers have received extensive media coverage. In contrast, “Shatter the Myths” focuses on prevention and education to stop teens from falling victims to drug abuse, the leading cause of death among Americans under the age of 50.

“It will take a community effort to address the opioid epidemic, and by working together, we can make sure our young people are educated and empowered to make healthy decisions,” says Michaela Pratt, President and CEO of Mentor Foundation USA.

‘Shatter the Myths’ is a positive community effort, bringing together government agencies, private foundations and corporate partners to empower and educate young people. The event is co-hosted by the Embassy of Sweden and the National Institute on Drug Abuse, with support from Securitas Security Services USA, Inc., Second Genesis Foundation, and EagleForce Associates, Inc.

During the day, students will learn about substance misuse both from a scientific and social perspective. They will also participate in poetry slam workshops where they can express their own feelings around addiction and the importance of prevention.

Special guest speakers include:
● Dr. Ruben Baler, Health Scientist Administrator, National Institute on Drug Abuse, a specialist on the neurobiology of drug abuse and addiction
● Karin Jordås, Secretary General for Mentor International, the leading youth development nonprofit organization working globally to empower young people and prevent drug abuse
● H.E. the Ambassador of Sweden to the U.S. Karin Olofsdotter

The students will also hear a heartfelt testimonial from Mary A. Winnefeld, who lost her 19-year old son Jonathan to a tragic accidental opioid overdose in September 2017. “I am honored to be a part of the Mentor Foundation USA’s “Shatter the Myths” event, and to introduce the students, faculty and guests to the work of S.A.F.E. Project US,” said S.A.F.E. Project US Co-Founder and Co-Chair, Mary Winnefeld a national nonprofit working to end the nation’s opioid epidemic. “I hope that by sharing our son, Jonathan’s story, we can help these students understand the impact of addiction on the entire family, and encourage them to communicate openly about their own struggles. Removing the stigma, educating with science, and opening a dialogue at a young age is critical to combatting drug use and addiction. At the end of this impactful day, a life we didn’t even know was in peril could be saved, and that’s what S.A.F.E. Project US aims to do every day.”

Media can attend between 10:00am-2:30pm.. Recommended times are 10:00-11:30am and 1:00-2:00pm at House of Sweden: 2900 K St. NW, Washington, DC 20007. Please register your attendance: or (571) 458-7051.

About Mentor Foundation USA: Our mission is to empower young people to live healthy lives, free of drugs. Mentor Foundation USA is an affiliate of Mentor International, which was founded in 1994 by Her Majesty Queen Silvia of Sweden and the World Health Organization. Mentor is the leading nongovernmental organization working globally to prevent drug abuse with National Members in the United States, United Kingdom, Sweden, Lithuania, Latvia, Germany, Denmark, and a regional operation in Lebanon, which includes 22 Arab League countries. Collectively, we have implemented projects in over 80 countries and impacted more than 6 million lives.
Facebook: Mentor Foundation USA | Instagram: @mentor_usa | Twitter: @mentor_usa

About S.A.F.E. Project: S.A.F.E. Project is a non-governmental organization that is committed to contributing in a tangible way to overcoming the epidemic of opioid addiction in the United States. The organization uses an action-oriented, fact-based, non-partisan approach to substantial progress through six interdependent lines of operation that address public awareness, full-spectrum prevention, prescription medicine, law enforcement and medical response, treatment and recovery and family outreach and support. The organization was founded in November 2017 by retired Navy Admiral and former ninth vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff James Winnefeld and his wife Mary Winnefeld
after they lost their 19-year old son, Jonathan, to an accidental opioid overdose. For more information, please visit

About Mary A. Winnefeld: Mary is co-founder and co-chair of S.A.F.E. Project. She is one of the nation’s leading military family advocates, and has been actively involved in the health and welfare of military and veteran families, as well as the policies and procedures that affect their lives. In addition to her leadership of S.A.F.E. Project, Ms. Winnefeld currently serves on the board of directors for the Cohen Veterans Network, Elizabeth Dole Foundation, USO Metropolitan Washington, The Pathway Home National Advisory Committee and an Ambassador for the Tragedy Assistance for Survivors (TAPS). Prior to dedicating her life to the S.A.F.E. Project mission and the welfare of military and veteran families, Ms. Winnefeld was employed by Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) for more than 17 years, serving as a program manager for NATO as well as a member of SAIC’s Ethics Board.
Facebook: @SAFEProjectUs | Instagram: @SAFEProjectUS | Twitter: @SAFEProjectUS