It seems universal that kids ask the most unexpected questions in awkward situations, and when you’re least prepared. Parents have to think quickly to respond in an age-appropriate way. One of those teaching moments occurred when CWEnder Scott Leisler, above, and his wife Jackie were out with their daughter Clementine, then 5, who discovered drug paraphernalia lying on the street. This experience, according to Leisler, was a wake-up call that substance abuse can affect anyone in one way or another.
Leisler, president and chief creative officer of Dovetail Marketing Agency on Maryland Plaza, remembers thinking at the time that drug abuse is a community problem and that we need to help solve it. After relating the experience to his staff, he found the entire team eager to help develop a creative solution.
At first they considered installing guerrilla-style messages in drug hot spots around town advertising that help was available. But when Leisler spoke to Howard Weissman, who was executive director of National Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse (NCADA) at the time, Weissman suggested they collaborate and create a campaign that would emphasize prevention targeted at young families. The NCADA had found through studies that just talking to your kids about addiction when they are young and impressionable can cut future risk in 1/2.
After Dovetail’s staff spent months of work developing a website and marketing materials, the Talk about it campaign – including free age-specific talking kits giving parents the resources to talk to their families about drug and alcohol abuse—was rolled out to a regional audience during Super Bowl 2018 (see below). Financial support for Talk about it came from NCADA’s donors and partners (see list at end of post).
For parents, just starting the conversation can be difficult, but the talking kits which target pre-K to 2nd grade, 3rd to 5th grades, 6th to 8th grades, and 9th to 12th grades, help open the door. There is also a kit to help start the conversation if you suspect drug abuse. From the Talk about it website: “It can be difficult to acknowledge that it’s happening, and it can be even harder to break the silence. But these conversations can be lifesaving.”
Locally, you may spot the Talk about it campaign on billboards, bus kiosks and on 20 oversized pill bottles that can be found at various locations including the Gateway Arch grounds, Central Library, Forest Park Visitors’ Center, Soulard, and in the CWE on the Straub’s parking lot and at Coffee Cartel.
What started as a teaching moment for one Central West End family has now reached a much broader audience, and before long the plan to take the Talk about it campaign across the state and around the country will help even more. A big thank you to everyone involved in developing and supporting this campaign to help stop an epidemic that has spiraled out of control and has touched so many.
Talk about it sponsors include: National Council of Alcohol and Drug Addiction, Missouri Foundation for Health, DEA 360 Strategy, DBH (Division of Behavioral Health), Missouri Department of Economic Development, and the CWE’s Dovetail Marketing Agency.