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LRHSD to Appear on ESPN in “The First Day,” a Substance Use Prevention Film Featuring Former NBA Player Chris Herren

The Lenape Regional High School District (LRHSD) welcomed former NBA player Chris Herren in October 2017 to share his story of drug abuse and recovery with ninth through 12th grades at all four district high schools, as well as with parents/guardians. Now, the presentations he made at both Lenape and Shawnee high schools are part of a new educational film, “The First Day,” which premiered on ESPN Tuesday, July 16th. The next airing will be on Tuesday, July 30th at 10:00pm.

The film is presented by the Center on Addiction and Cigna, and it’s billed as a newapproach to prevention education because of its focus on why young people turn to substances in the first place. Herren and filmmaker Jonathan Hock teamed up for the film, reuniting after first collaborating on ESPN Films 30 for 30, “Unguarded,” which chronicled the collapse of Herren’s career due to drug use, in addition to his journey to find recovery.

Following the release of the first film project in 2011, Herren began traveling the country, sharing his story of recovery with more than 1 million people nationwide, especially youth. He first presented to LRHSD students in 2013, and then returned for the 2017 presentations. “The First Day” captures the connections Herren has made with students through presentations such as these. It also addresses the struggles and the issues facing people and communities across the country that often lead to drug use and other harmful behaviors.

The Lenape Regional High School District has welcomed Herren twice as part of the district’s Defy the Issue campaign, launched by students, staff and the community in 2010. This community-wide effort aims to educate families and residents of all ages about the dangers of illegal drug and alcohol use and to provide support for young people by empowering them to DEFY the pressures of drug and alcohol use.

“Through Defy the Issue, we have started important conversations that have the potential to positively impact the decisions of our high school students regarding drug and alcohol use,” said LRHSD Superintendent Carol Birnbohm, Ed.D. “Chris Herren has twice now helped us with our campaign by truly captivating our students with his story of addiction and thoughts about why people use, how addiction starts and the long, hard road to recovery. We are proud to be a part of ‘The First Day’ film, which will allow him to educate and influence many others across our country.”

“The First Day” premiered as part of a two-hour special on ESPN on July 16th. ESPN Films 30 for 30, “Unguarded,” aired first, followed by “The First Day.” Following the premiere, the film will be available to download through a website that will include a common core-aligned prevention education curriculum, discussion materials, teacher resources and access to programs for individuals and families seeking information, help and support.

The LRHSD plans to share links to the trailers on the Defy the Issue webpage and share the film and its related teacher resources with all health and physical education teachers to supplement their instruction on substance abuse and prevention.