A Cross-Country Crusade to Help Educators Keep Children Safe



Scientologist Sean Burke knows a good thing when he sees it, and he saw it right away when he learned about the Truth About Drugs campaign

Sean Burke’s passion is helping others. A lifelong volunteer and a Scientologist since 1987, during the pandemic he worked with a nonprofit formed by top ICU doctors, sharing information on how to properly treat COVID in the hospital and at home. But this year, he decided to focus on another pandemic: The spiraling drug crisis that is affecting youth throughout America. He took action by introducing thousands of educators to the Truth About Drugs—the drug education and prevention initiative supported by the Church of Scientology. 

Burke and his wife moved to Seattle in 2022. Always on the lookout to create positive change, he connected with the local chapter of Foundation for a Drug-Free World, sponsored by the Seattle Church of Scientology, and helped staff a booth at a local educator conference. 

“Teachers were lining up to talk to us and get drug education materials,” he says. He was stunned by how interested they were in the program. So he volunteered to drive 1,400 miles across four states to man a Drug-Free World booth at an educator conference in Fargo, North Dakota. The reach there was just as strong as what he saw in Seattle.

He found the same intense interest in the program when he
set up a booth at a conference in Missoula, Montana.
So Burke selected nine other conferences taking place on the East Coast and Midwest over six weeks at the start of the school year. And he reached out to other Scientology Churches to line up volunteers to cover conferences taking place at the same time in their own areas.

He flew into Baltimore in October, rented a cargo van to carry his materials, and set off to Charleston, West Virginia. Checking into the hotel where the conference was taking place, two women approached and thanked him for being there. They’d both lost people to overdose. Little did Burke know when he selected this conference as the first stop of his tour that Charleston is, as the two women told him, 40 miles from “the opioid overdose capital of the world.” 

The following day, a retired teacher came to his booth to introduce Burke to her “sole surviving daughter.” Two others had died of opioid overdose. Her daughter, a teacher like her mom, took a Truth About Drugs education package to use in her classroom. Another educator shared a link to the Truth About Drugs videos on painkillers and alcohol with 2,400 physical education and driver-ed teachers.

Three weeks and four conferences later in Lincoln, Nebraska, the woman in the booth next to his told Burke “I used to use the Truth About Drugs in my classroom.” That was when she taught 8th grade. Now, she’s with the University of Nebraska training future health teachers in health education. She wanted 20 Truth About Drugs lesson plans for her student teachers to use with their health education pupils. He helped her order the full Truth About Drugs Educators’ Kits, which also include all materials, assignments, and suggested classroom activities, which Foundation for a Drug-Free World ships out free of charge.

“Wherever I set up at a conference I would meet educators who have been using these materials successfully for years,” he said. In Verona, New York, a town 35 miles east of Syracuse, nearly 70 percent of the educators who stopped by his booth had either heard of or were using the program in their classrooms.

While Burke was driving 7,000 miles across 21 states to staff a booth at nine conferences, volunteers he activated brought the program to another 21 conferences from Texas to Wisconsin and Maine to Alabama, with 97 volunteers working to pull it off. They contributed funds for the cost of a table, helped find volunteers, and some 60 of them staffed the booths. In all, they distributed more than 1,700 educator kits and 668,000 sets of Truth About Drugs materials.

Far from thinking the job is now done, Burke is only getting started. Between his own volunteer work and those he encourages to join in the campaign, he is planning to bring the Truth About Drugs initiative to 50 conferences and distribute 1 million drug education materials to educators throughout the country in the coming year.

What Burke likes best about the campaign is the enthusiasm educators have for the curriculum. They tell him that kids find the booklets and videos fascinating; the Truth About Drugs materials help young people examine their attitudes about drugs and alcohol and make firm decisions about how they will live their lives. And they give them tools to help friends and family members on this urgent issue.

The Church of Scientology and Scientologists support Foundation for a Drug-Free World, making it possible for the Foundation to provide its drug education materials free of charge to educators, law enforcement, parents and anyone wishing to reach others with the truth about drugs.

Noting the increase in substance abuse and the role this has played in the disintegration of the social fabric, Scientology Founder L. Ron Hubbard wrote, “Research has demonstrated that the single most destructive element present in our current culture is drugs.”

Voices for Humanity, a Scientology Network original series of documentaries about changemakers of diverse cultures and faiths, spotlights drug education and prevention activists who use the Truth About Drugs campaign to create positive change in their communities and nations. Watch them on the Scientology Network, available on DIRECTV Channel 320, DIRECTV STREAM, AT&T U-verse and streaming at Scientology.tv, on mobile apps, and via the Roku, Amazon Fire, and Apple TV platforms. Since launching with a special episode featuring Scientology ecclesiastical leader Mr. David Miscavige, Scientology Network has been viewed in 240 countries and territories worldwide in 17 languages.



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