Cupertino, Sunnyvale schools educate families on Fentanyl dangers

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While Melanie’s Law awaits approval from Gov. Gavin Newsom, Cupertino and Sunnyvale school districts are getting a jump on educating students and their parents about the dangers of Fentanyl.

Melanie’s Law, or SB10, was introduced by state Sen. Dave Cortese and passed unanimously in the state Senate on Sept. 19. The bill—named for 15-year-old Melanie Ramos, who overdosed on fentanyl and died in the bathroom of her school—mandates training regarding fentanyl be included in California’s School Safety Plans law.

Melanie’s Law focuses on preventing youth fentanyl overdoses through response, training, education and awareness.

To that end, the Rotary Club of Cupertino is hosting a community educational program on Oct. 18 in partnership with the Fremont Union High Schools Foundation, the Fremont Union High School District and the Cupertino Union School District. “Fentanyl Poisoning: Real Talk About Fake Pills” will address illicit Fentanyl poisonings and overdoses, which organizers say are responsible for one in every five deaths in California among those ages 14-25.

“While parents are overwhelmingly likely to say they’ve talked with their children about this issue, young Californians are saying their parents rarely or don’t broach the subject with them,” reads an event release. “Young adults cite fear of judgement, lack of comfort and potential consequences as some of the most significant obstacles to discussing prescription pill misuse. Parents report that lacking enough knowledge is a key barrier that keeps them from talking with their children about the issue.”

Speakers at the event include Rob Walker, a Monta Vista High School alumnus who lost his son to fentanyl poisoning two years ago, and Stanford University PhD candidate Rhana Hashemi, a nationally recognized drug educator with expertise in youth overdose prevention and harm reduction.

Ed Ternan, founder of Song for Charlie, is also scheduled to speak. Ternan founded the nonprofit after his son Charlie died in May 2020 at age 22 after taking a “fentapill,” a counterfeit pill made to look like Percocet but containing deadly fentanyl.

Song for Charlie is named after a song written in the young man’s memory by musician Jack Syms. The nonprofit’s mission is to make parents aware of the dangers Fentanyl poisoning poses to their children, and to make youth cognizant of the role they can play in preventing their own demise and that of their friends.

The program is set for 7-8:30 p.m. at Fremont High School’s Shannon Theatre, 575 W. Fremont Ave., Sunnyvale. Registration is required to tinyurl.com/newdrugtalk.

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