On Thursday, First Lady Casey DeSantis hosted a high school The Facts. Your Future. assembly in a packed auditorium at Tohopekaliga High School in Kissimmee to highlight the dangers of youth substance abuse, especially for teens.

“When you consider the situation in our country where fentanyl use is spiking and tragically causing far too many young people to needlessly lose their lives, now it is more important than ever for teenagers to understand the facts about substance abuse,” said First Lady Casey DeSantis. “When we travel across the state talking to young people about substance abuse, I am always impressed by their courage to say no to societal pressures that are pushing them toward irresponsible behavior. We also know that young people need to know the facts in order to continue to resist peer pressure, which is why this campaign focuses on providing the facts about the permanent, life altering changes of substance abuse. I am incredibly thankful for everyone who joined us today and I look forward to continuing to work with the Department of Health and our local law enforcement to help teenagers live meaningful, drug-free lives.”

In attendance at the assembly were Osceola School District Superintendent Dr. Debra Pace, and Osceola County Commissioner for District 5 Ricky Booth.

Casey DeSantis
Casey DeSantis
Casey DeSantis3

The program included a young man, now blind, who was critically injured in a car crash after drinking and driving, a mother whose son died after taking drugs that were laced with fentanyl, a man who became addicted to opioids, and a mother whose son has been in and out of rehab after abusing drugs and alcohol. The auditorium at Tohopekaliga may have been filled with students, but through most of the program you could have heard a pin drop as the students were obviously engaged with the seriousness of the topic.

Since launching in 2019, The Facts. Your Future. has been utilized statewide to help youth understand the toxic effects of substance abuse. In July 2021, the State Board of Education adopted groundbreaking student performance standards on substance abuse prevention. To help schools achieve these standards, the campaign is now included as part of a free substance abuse curriculum for schools. The Florida Department of Education and Florida Department of Health will continue to work with schools across the state to help them host assemblies on substance abuse.

“Providing relevant educational tools for drug prevention to our youth is more important today than ever before,” said Seminole County Sheriff Dennis Lemma. “Long gone are the days that we could rely on messages like “Just Say No.” First Lady DeSantis’ The Facts. Your Future. campaign is an incredible tool to provide information that our youth must hear and understand. The risks associated with drug use are too high, and we are losing young adults in record numbers. This campaign helps us deliver these messages in the modern-day.”

“First Lady Casey DeSantis has demonstrated the importance of directly engaging youth on the damaging effects of substance abuse at a young age,” said Deputy Secretary for Health Dr. Kenneth Scheppke. “This direct engagement will help ensure that our younger generation understands how substance abuse can permanently impact them and will encourage them to make healthy choices that allow them to thrive now and in the future.”

“The First Lady’s campaign is critical for supporting youth across the state in making informed decisions about their lives,” said Statewide Youth Advocacy Coordinator for Students Working Against Tobacco Ladarius Gammage. “We have a responsibility to prepare these young people for the future, and the First Lady has clearly embraced this charge through her initiative.”

This announcement comes at an important time when fentanyl deaths are rising across the country, including in Florida. In 2020, 63% more deaths were caused by fentanyl than the previous year. To learn more about, visit TheFactsYourFuture.org.