Thursday, January 16, 2014

Letters for LIFE: Help Make SLAM A Reality

What a concept. Putting pen to paper instead of finger to keyboard or thumbs to phone screen. Remember the days of the thank you note, complaint letter or the hand written greeting? I do and to me there in nothing more powerful than a physical letter in your hands. E-mails are fine in the moment but to make an impression, I like the old fashioned LETTER.
When asked by my friend and brilliant author/actress Kristen Johnston what could possibly be done to get the attention of the New York City board of education in regard to her vision: SLAM ,I immediately thought of an old fashioned letter writing campaign. Others on her Facebook Page had the same thoughts as I and we are ready to put pen to paper for her and SLAM. She has worked tirelessly for the last 6 years to make this dream a reality. Now it's OUR turn to help!
We NEED YOU to write a letter to the NYC Board of Education in support of SLAM (Sober Learning and Motivation). Letters can be either legibly hand written or typed.

The letters need to contain the following:
1) FACTS about teen addiction (provided below). Or any others that are RELEVANT and CREDIBLE. Cite your sources.
2) Intelligent communication and not emotion.
3) Illustration as to WHY New York NEEDS this school supported by the facts above.
4) Use a personal story, if and where applicable to support the need for a school like SLAM
5) Mention Kristen Johnston's hard work, with over six years of effort put into this project.

The letters DO NOT NEED:
1) Foul language
2) Quantity over Quality. It does not have to be LONG. Include the facts and your opinion. 
3) Emotional Opinions or anything that resembles anger.  An assertive and direct approach is what will keep their attention. Stick to the facts.

You don't have to live in New York to write a letter and support this campaign. 
This is a HUMAN issue and not a geographical one. 

"Drug use among Teens is a national health crisis. 9 out of every 10 chemically dependent Americans started smoking, drinking or drugging before age 18".

“Half of all High School students currently use addictive substances."
--The National Center on Addiction & Substance Abuse (CASA)

“It is essential to begin to address the disease of substance abuse as early as possible. At 20, 25 years old … it’s too late. Not for sobriety, of course. But too late to stop the terrible negative toll Addiction will take on their lives, and ours, for years to come.”
--Dr. Scott Beinenfield, NYC Addiction Psychiatrist

SLAM has to succeed. Without it, hundreds of NYC kids will be incarcerated – or die. My son nearly died of his addiction, which began in high school. I WISH I’d found a school like SLAM when he was a Teen. Instead, he went from rehab to rehab, relapse to relapse, ER to ER. Tragically, there’s no such school in New York City. What SLAM is doing can help countless numbers of children grow up to productive and fulfilling lives.”
David Sheff, NY Times Best-selling Author of ‘Beautiful 
Boy’ & 'Clean' 

"9 in 10 addictions BEGIN IN HIGH SCHOOL"
—The CDC

In Manhattan, aside from many regular public & private schools, 
there also high schools devoted to: LBTQ kids, construction, technology, law, asian studies, hospitality management, food & finance, science, French, fashion, economics, environmental studies, sign language, many schools devoted the arts: performing, music, directing, writing, composing, art, photography, etc. WHY NOT ADDICTION?

There are many, many schools focused on technology. as The NY DAILY NEWS wrote on Dec 2013: "New York City has been ramping up its focus on STEM — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — to better prepare the city for the global economy. "

Kristen writes, "These are all WONDERFUL schools. I'm so glad they exist. 
Except many of NYC's teens are in a silent crisis no one will discuss.
I JUST CAN'T FIGURE OUT WHY NYC REFUSES TO CREATE A SOBER HIGH SCHOOL."Especially if you realize there are 35 recovery high schools in US. 4 in Boston area alone. There are ZERO in NYC or New York State."
We can all lend a hand to the work Kristen has done. Together we may be able to make a difference or at the very lease get the Board of Educations attention.

I want their desk to look like this:
ALL Letters are to be sent to this campaign as they will be forwarded with a cover letter written by Kristen.

Mail your letter to: 
SLAM, 332 Bleecker street, NY, NY, 10014
** att: "SLAM letter campaign" on envelope***


Write the Letters To:
Ms. Carmen FariƱa (the brand new Chancellor) and/or  to NYC's Board Of Education.

The letters will take moments of your time and a stamp. This pales in comparison to the impact YOU can have on the lives of addicted youth and their families.


If you decide no to write the letter, not prioritize this small task or help out SLAM ....


  1. Does it help if someone outside NY writes?

  2. YES! Anyone can write. I live in California and I have written. Please support SLAM and send a letter. You need only to support Kristen/SLAM cause. Thank You! Lisa XO