Natural High Uses Celebs to Teach Kids About Drugs

Small Business Spotlight: Natural High, @naturalhigh

Who: Jon Sundt

What: A non-profit organization devoted to teaching kids about the dangers of drugs and alcohol

When: 1994

Where: La Jolla, California

How: Asset management guru Jon Sundt lost two brothers to drugs and wanted to honor their memories by preventing drug abuse in youths. “I started thinking through what caused them to take that path … a lot of it was peer pressure, and a lot of it was that they thought it was cool,” says Sundt.

As a result, Sundt says he wanted to educate children that many “awesome” individuals and celebrities they admire say no to drugs and alcohol, showing that a “natural high” can be just as cool as doing drugs.

The Natural High organization uses a DVD curriculum to teach 7 million middle schoolers about drugs and alcohol, with interview from celebrities like Tony Hawk and Lauren Conrad on why they don’t do drugs – and the fun things they do instead.

“You don’t change behavior by saying don’t drink Coke, you change behavior by saying, this is better,” says Sundt.

Biggest challenge: Sundt says the initial challenge was getting accepted by schools to be the chosen program. Now that Natural High reaches 20% of middle schoolers nationwide, Sundt says the biggest hurdle is continuing to develop content in a timely manner.

One moment in time: Sundt is proudest of the letters he receives from students saying, “I’ve made the decision to live a ‘Natural High’ life.”

“It just gives me chills,” he says.

Best business advice: “Follow your gut, and hire the best people you can,” says Sundt.