Nonprofit’s DVD series promotes ‘natural highs’


By Jenna Jay


“Natural high” is a catch phrase spreading as quickly as the newest YouTube sensations.

The two words emphasize a La Jolla-based organization’s drive to encourage young adults to spurn alcohol and drugs, promoting instead a way to find a natural adrenaline rush through other pastimes.

The Sundt Memorial Foundation is a nonprofit on a mission to change the way teenage society views drugs so it becomes more acceptable to choose a “natural high” over a drug-induced stupor. The company has taken action with the implementation of its Natural High initiative and star-studded Natural High DVD Series.

The series features four installments in an ongoing effort to keep kids drug- and alcohol-free. Videos highlight celebrities, such as pro surfer Kelly Slater and pop star Mya, promoting clean lifestyles and talking about choosing their life passions for adrenaline rushes instead of using drugs and alcohol.

The latest edition premiered in September, and the DVDs are distributed free of charge to middle schools across the country so teachers can show them as drug prevention tools.

For Sundt Memorial Foundation founder and President Jon Sundt, the Natural High push hits close to home. Sundt lost his two younger brothers to a long battle with drugs. Thereafter, he said he felt a calling to spearhead a cultural movement steering teens away from harmful substances.

“What I realized with my younger brothers was that they were influenced by their heroes,” Sundt said, blaming negative messaging and poor role models for the nation’s drug- and alcohol-related mainstream hype. “(Kids might) think every star you look up to gets loaded every night. What media doesn’t tell you is there are plenty of role models kids can look up to (who don’t).”

One way of getting America’s teens involved with the message was through a recent Natural High PSA Contest, which yielded its first winner last month. The 2010 Natural High PSA Contest gave adolescents the chance to become the next stars in their own Natural High films. Participants created videos illustrating what gives them a “natural high.”

More than 100 teens across the nation submitted films to win money and memorabilia. Sam Sandweiss, 17, and his friends Dylan and Daniel from Tucson, Ariz., won the grand prize. Their video shows how they get a natural high from rock climbing.

As the Natural High initiative expands, it has plans to construct an online community for kids to share their own “natural highs” with instant video uploads.

On the Web

  • Watch the premiere of the Natural High video series Volume One, featuring pro surfer Dillon Perillo, at

  • Sundt Memorial Foundation: