Athletes Don’t is a non-profit organization founded in Stafford, VA. The mission and goal are very personnel for the founders, Heather and Drew Frye. When they had learned their straight-A, multi-sport athlete daughter was “vaping” they began to research in a quest to understand more. What they realized was that vaping among high schools students across the country had continually been on the rise year over year. They went on a mission to find a way to fight this epidemic.
That’s where Athletes Don’t was born.
They partnered with a large local oncology practice, Hematology-Oncology Associates of Fredericksburg (HOAF) and developed a program to bring awareness and education to middle school and high school students. The doctors and nurses at HOAF have access to research and resources that bring great accessibility to the Athletes Don’t organization. Because student-athletes tend to be viewed as leaders among their peers, the hope is by directly focusing on the student-athletes we will build a united collection of focused and driven individuals that will lead a movement of abstinence among their peers and serve as an example of positive and healthy influence.
By definition, ATHLETE: a person who is proficient in sports and other forms of physical exercise. Our Movement is NOT LIMITED to only athletes who wear a uniform and play on a team. We recognize athlete’s based on the formal definition. We would never turn any student or adult away. We want to reach as many lives as we can.
One of the key things that the Frye’s learned through their research was that the majority of teenagers think vaping is simply “flavoring” or “water vapor” and have no actual knowledge that electronic cigarettes contain nicotine among many other carcinogenic ingredients. This is both alarming and untrue.
Not only do we hope to educate student-athletes and the entire teenage population, but we hope to also educate the parents who may have no idea this is taking place, what to look for or what conversations they should be having. We don’t want to tell anyone how to raise their child but we hope that by helping parents become aware – we can help stop the epidemic before it starts in some cases. Another key point was that they were completely clueless about what had been going on.
The truth is the electronic cigarette market has gone through a complete transition in recent years, now making devices that look nothing like a cigarette or “vaporizer” but rather USB sticks and other various undetectable items. Furthermore, the liquid vaping “juices” come in flavors and smells which students are doing under without teachers or parents even noticing. Research shows that students are vaping in class, exhaling the “smoke” into their hoodie sleeves and also terrorizing bathrooms within the school walls.
In addition to vaping, we also felt it imperative to focus and address tobacco use as a whole and drug use. Statistics show that student-athletes are 50% more likely to be prescribed pain medication due to sports injuries.
Unfortunately, many times pain medication can become addictive and lead to other drug use. Opioid addiction is also a national epidemic. We want to share information and spread awareness about this as well. We hope to keep helping athletes understand the implications of prescription pain medication and offer over the counter medicines as an alternative in many cases – it could be sufficient for pain management.
“1 in 3 young smokers will eventually die from a tobacco-related disease.” “That statistic has to change. We as a society and community have to educate our students, our future leaders, that vaping, tobacco, and drug use have zero benefits” says Jennifer Sullivan, Clinical Education Director at Athlete’s Don’t. “Using these substances will take away their health, and instead, can cause respiratory and cardiac disease, decreased brain development, and other major organ impairment.”Athletes Don’t
Our ultimate goal is to get the students to pledge through our organization, not to vape, use tobacco or drugs. When they take the pledge of abstinence, our goal is to get them a “swag bag.” In this swag bag, you will get a t-shirt, a lanyard, and booklet with the latest information about these substances and the serious health concerns they can cause. Additionally, we will collect their contact information so we can send them relevant information pertaining to the risks with usage and resources to help them quit if needed. So far, we have had some local sponsors and partners who have donated to help cover the cost for our program.
We want to change lives. Our focus is one student-athlete at a time. Every life is important. We hope to bring awareness, education and change. Encourage all of our followers to pledge for their health and their future.
Take the pledge. Join the Movement.
Exam and Lab Manager
Hematology Oncology Associates of Fredericksburg