Jon Sundt Rides High
How San Diego-based Natural High inspires more than 7 million youth across the U.S. to live well, without drugs.
Celebrity Ambassador Rob Machado shows off his natural high
How did Natural High start?
I started it after losing my two little brothers to drugs. I wanted to dispel the myth that drugs were "cool" and start changing the dialogue so that kids know that it’s cool to find a natural high, and a lot more fun. My motivation is to teach every kid to choose their natural high over drugs.
Scare us. What are the facts behind addiction and youth and drugs?
Today, 20,000 youth will have tried drugs or alcohol for the first time, and the average age is 13. The longer we push back the first time kids try drugs or alcohol, the less likely they are to be hooked for life. Youth who start drinking or smoking marijuana before age 14 are eight times more likely to become addicted to alcohol, and six times more likely to become addicted to marijuana than those who start in their 20's.
What started in San Diego has spread across the world, right?
We started by presenting at local school assemblies with a slide projector, and before I knew it, we were recording video with local celebrities like Rob Machado and Tony Hawk. With the digital reach today, we’ve been able to spread the stories and free curricula to more than 17,000 educators in classrooms in all 50 states. We have a goal to reach 12 million youth in 2015.
Who are some of your ambassadors?
We have been incredibly fortunate to partner with inspiring celebrities like record-breaking soccer goalie Tim Howard, pro skater Tony Hawk, Grammy Award- winning Switchfoot’s Jon Foreman and Tim Foreman, pro surfer Rob Machado, High School Musical star Corbin Bleu, and most recently, Dancing With the Stars’ Chelsie Hightower. Our celebrity ambassadors are phenomenal people and generous to share their time and their stories to inspire kids to make good choices. It’s one thing if I tell kids to find their natural high, but so much stronger when it comes from their role models.
How can regular people get involved?
As a parent or teacher, watch our videos on a regular basis with your child or student and ask the questions in our discussion guide. We want everyone, particularly those with children in their lives, to know the powerful message of living naturally high, and how it can change lives. You can take the Natural High pledge, share your favorite celebrity video and start a conversation with your kids, talk to your school leadership about bringing in the Natural High message, attend one of our events, and much more.
What have you learned about charity in the process of growing Natural High?
There is a joy and a healing in giving. A lot of people have been touched by addiction, and Natural High’s positive approach to prevention gives them hope for the future. That is the ultimate goal of charity: to affect people’s hearts.
Are you living your passion?
Absolutely. We hear from folks all over the country whose lives are changed by Natural High. My family and I suffered some tough times and it gives me a lot of joy to keep other families from going through that. I also get to surf regularly with my son and support my daughter’s natural high of volleyball. It doesn’t get better than that.