Donald Hooton educates youth on the harm appearance and performance-enhancing drugs can have.

APED e-learning course targets coaches

Many experts believe that more than 750,000 children have used appearance and performance-enhancing drugs (APEDs), such as anabolic steroids, to enhance physical appearance. Unfortunately, a course on the harmful effects of APEDs isn't taught in high school, let alone, commonly discussed in coaches' offices. For this reason, Frisco, Texas, resident Donald Hooton and his son, Donald Jr., have been traveling across the country to educate teenagers, coaches and parents on the use and abuse of APEDs with their Hoot's Chalk Talk program. To the father and son, raising awareness is their way of protecting teenagers from the same fate that their own family member met.

As a 17-year-old baseball player in 2003, Taylor Hooton took his life due to severe depression brought forth from using anabolic steroids as a shortcut to "get bigger." A year later, his family established the Taylor Hooton Foundation to keep his memory ongoing and to assist teenagers who turn to APEDs when feeling pressure to improve physical appearance or athletic performance.

In addition to the launching of the foundation, the Hooton family created Hoot's Chalk Talk - the foundation's educational vehicle in driving APED awareness. However, the onsite 60-minute PowerPoint presentation is about to undergo a makeover to accommodate the hectic schedules coaches often have.

The Taylor Hooton Foundation will soon be giving coaches the convenience of achieving APED education in the comfort of their own home with its new Hoot's Chalk Talk E-Learning Program. The online program is just another way for Donald and Donald Jr. to revolutionize the training they are currently providing to coaches with Hoot's Chalk Talk.

"When you think about coaches and about the young boys and girls they are coaching, they are oftentimes more influential than the childrens' parents," Donald said. "Therefore, we need to make people aware that APEDs are a problem and that there is something out there for coaches to take in order to understand the severe danger of these types of drugs. But many times this education has to be on their schedule so they can process the knowledge and not rush through it."

Coaches will be able to utilize the Hoot's Chalk Talk E-Learning Program on the Taylor Hooton Foundation Web site where they will encounter many of the same effective training tools as the Hoot's Chalk Talk presentation. For instance, there will be a PowerPoint presentation with a voiceover to walk users through the multiple slides, reading material, and videos and pictures that describe APEDs and their usage. Furthermore, there will be four one-hour sections that are designed for coaches of all levels. The titles for each section are:

What are APEDs and where do they come from?Who is using APEDs and why are young people motivated to take and use these drugs?What is commonly known about the primary APEDs drug of choice - anabolic steroids?What steps can we take to deal with this problem?

At the end of each section, coaches must take and pass a 15-question quiz before moving forward. If need be, coaches will have the ability to log off anytime - even during the quizzes - and log back in to resume where they left off. Once coaches have successfully passed each section, a certificate of completion will be available for download.

"When you go to a hairstylist to get your hair cut, the stylist has gone to beauty school and paid decent money to achieve certification in order to cut your hair," Donald Jr. said. "But for coaches - the ones who handle our most precious and valuable assets, our children - there isn't a certification that they must obtain on APED education. Eventually, my father and I would like to see that APED certification is mandated in every state for coaches."

Initially, Hoot's Chalk Talk E-Learning Program will only target coaches, but there are versions in the works for four other adult influencers: parents, physicians, athletic directors and athletic trainers. Before these online courses will launch, the Hootons are making revisions to the current e-learning program, thanks to the numerous feedback they received from American Legion Baseball and Major League Baseball coaches. The coaches were recently given a test version of the program to critique and contribute honest feedback - a surefire way for the Taylor Hooton Foundation to provide education that's affective and engaging.

"Our message with Hoot's Chalk Talk and the new Hoot's Chalk Talk E-Learning Program is all positive," Donald said. "We are not about lecturing anyone. We are just trying to share APED information with a group of adults who influence our youth today."