1987 Seymore, Critters & Kids “Just Say No to Drugs!”
A Public/Private Sector Substance Prevention Initiative
The original production of Cajun Critters & Kid’s “Just Say No” to Drugs was launched in March 1987 in Jefferson Parish, which was the second largest school system in the State of Louisiana. The program was underwritten privately and in part by Sheriff Harry Lee. The combination of program and transportation underwriting and corporate sponsorships enabled the program to be offered free of charge to all participating Elementary and Middle schools in the metro New Orleans area.
Goals & Objectives
The Critters & Kids program was developed to coincide with the National “Just Say NO!” program and was designed specifically for preadolescence school-aged children. The objectives were:
Provide an entertaining and thought-provoking vehicle to teach children 5-11 years old that drugs are inappropriate and unacceptable for quality living.
Raise the awareness of children 5-11 years old of the hazards of drug use and their responsibility to reject drug use when influenced by peer pressure.
This program utilized animated cartoon, costume, and puppet character concepts similar to Disney and the Muppets, which children were conditioned to respond to for over fifty (50+) years
PTA SCHOOL FUNDRAISING
A PTA fundraiser was created for participating schools via a promotional T-shirt program. Participating schools sold over 4500 program themed t-shirts raising approximately $45,000 for schools in the metro area.
During the seven-week production over 100 elementary and middle schools participated in the program transporting 40,000 students to one of the 63 live theater performances.
The program was offered to the public and private school throughout Jefferson and surrounding parishes over a seven-week period. In addition to the live performances, each school was provided a complete school curriculum that included teacher’s guides, program coloring books, and pre & post assessments.
Program Ambassadors & Supporters
Nancy Reagan | First Lady | US
Edwin E. Edwards | Governor - Louisiana
Harry Lee | Sheriff - Jefferson Parish
John Lawn | Administrator | DEA
Lindy Boggs | US Congresswoman
Billy Tauzin | U.S. Congressman
Robert Livingston | U.S. Congressman
Frank S. Marullo | District Judge
Sidney Barthelemy | Mayor of New Orleans
Diane Bajoie | Louisiana State Representative
Program Champions & Evaluators
Earl Patterson Ph.D. | Tulane University
Peter Egan M.S. | New Life Center
Ashton Brisolara M. Ed. | Commission on Alcohol & Drug Abuse
William R. Sorum M.D. | Sorum & Associates
Cathy Sanderson, MA, | River Oaks Psychiatric Hospital
Gordon Berry M.D. | CBS Children’s Program Consultant
Edward T. Frank M.D. | DePaul Hospital
Seymore’s Live Drug Education Theater Production
Warning … the video quality is really bad … because it comes from a 32 year old VHS tape!
Reviews, Analysis, & Opinions
MEDICAL & EDUCATION | Observations
“The Cajun Critters & Kids “Just Say No” Drug Education program for school-aged children is a fresh, exciting, clever, as well as an educationally sound effort to reach students at an age when a critical decision will be made, which will affect the rest of their lives. It uses entertaining devices and techniques, sound educational principles and methods and involves students in a fashion to prompt drug-free living”.
Ashton Brisolara, M. ED | Executive Director, Commission on Alcohol & Drug Abuse
“The program has the continuity with the things going on in the community, and I think that the important thing is the program is designed to reach younger children and begin to stamp their consciousness at an impressionable age the extreme dangers of the use of drugs. Philosophically and educationally, the program is sound. Not only will it not bore children but will entertain them in a positive way”.
Dr. William R. Sorum, M.D. | Independent Substance Abuse Consultant
“The simplicity of the story was developmentally appropriate for the target audiences. The costumes and scenery joined together to project a clear and simple atmosphere of neighborhood warmth reminiscent of Sesame Street. The children observed responded spontaneously throughout the production aligning themselves with the positive role models and behavior presented. Overall, we found the character development to be well rounded and clearly defined, which resulted in strong audience identification with both characters and message”.
Cathy Sanderson, MA, ART | Director E.R.A. Department, River Oaks Private Psychiatric Hospital
MEDICAL & EDUCATION | Observations
“I find this program is an excellent combination of creative expression and important message. It gives the child an entree to the world of stage and theatre and provides excellent information on creative development. It also contains two vital life messages: it addresses the all-important developmental issue of peer pressure and in a positive way introduces the child to the need to say “no” to drugs.”
Peter Egan, M.S. | Director, New Life Center
De Paul Hospital
“The Critters & Kids “Just Say No” program is a creative and unique approach to teaching youngsters about the dangers of drug misuse. It is comprehensive and demonstrates a thorough knowledge of the effective teaching techniques and learning styles. This program not only provides an entertaining show, but the pre and post-performance classroom activities demonstrate a clear understanding of the learning process. Learning takes time and “One Shot” programs are classically ineffectual. This program is completely packaged to maximize the exposure young people will receive to the anti-drug message.”
Dr. Earl H. Patterson | Ph. D. Child Psychiatry
FEDERAL LAW ENFORCEMENT | Opinion
“After a 30-year career in Federal law enforcement, I learned we that will not arrest our way out of our country's drug abuse epidemic. We must educate children about the dangers of drug abuse at the earliest possible age.
The Seymore Says “Don’t Be a Bird Brain" Avoid Drugs program does this by targeting and educating K-6th-grade students. I am confident this program will have a positive impact and result in our future generation making healthier lifestyle choices with a substantial decrease in drug abuse”.
Warren Rivera | Retired DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge (SAC) - NOLA
EDUTAINMENT TELEVISION | Opinion
“While the television program content will be effectively portrayed to television audience’s age 4 & 7, the packaging of legitimate theatre will surely expand the audience range up children 12 years old. This innovative program is sure to capture the heart and imagination of young and old alike while addressing the importance of drug education in pre-adolescent age groups”.
Dr. Gordon Berry, M.D. | CBS Children’s Program Consultant, University of Southern California