Warped Tour Founder Kevin Lyman on New Opioid Education & Prevention Campaign

By Paul Gaita 03/08/18

The FEND campaign combines music, fashion and technology to promote its message.

Kevin Lyman
Kevin Lyman Photo via YouTube

The venerable Vans Warped Tour music festival will make its final cross-country summer run this year. Its founder, Kevin Lyman, has found a new focus for his energies.

Lyman hopes to continue to spread the tour's message of philanthropy and information through his partnership with a new initiative, Full Energy, No Drugs (FEND), which seeks to educate young people about the dangers of opioid use through a variety of platforms, including an app that uses a gaming and reward system approach to spread its message.

Lyman said that FEND is part of a larger "awakening" among young people who can make changes in their lives and their surroundings through engagement with worthwhile causes.

The FEND campaign combines music, fashion and technology to promote its message, with the latter taking the form of the app, which was developed through a partnership with the digital health company iPug, and which provides information about opioid dependency and treatment in a gaming format. Participants who log into the app are also given the chance to earn rewards and prizes, including tickets to the Warped Tour.

"There is a program people are finding called 'gamification,'" said Lyman in an interview with Forbes. "Engaging people in games, because we're in a gaming society, and you can teach through games. So the idea being simple things—download the app, follow prompts almost like a game, but we're educating you, and then rewarding you."

FEND will have a presence at each stop of the Warped Tour this summer, and Lyman said that the exposure will hopefully lead to a baseline among its fan base. But at its core, FEND directly addresses the idea of providing education to young individuals—a venture important to Lyman, who had initially planned to move into teaching after the first year of Warped.

"We're finding there's just a general lack of knowledge of what are opioids," he noted. "We're finding kids are becoming addicted because they twist their ankles in soccer [or] they're a cheerleader. They're prescribed something and no one really explains to them that this is an addictive thing, or can be."

As Lyman said, music allowed him to accomplish any number of things, including the Warped Tour, and in turn, it's brought him to this new venture. In return, he hopes to pass along this need to facilitate change among young people—a notion he saw during his years with the tour.

"I've said we've been waiting for that awakening," he shared. "Ten percent of the kids that were coming to Warped were signing up for local non-profits [and] getting involved in local chapters. Warped Tour kids have always been engaged. When they drop off half a million pounds of food every year at the gate, they're engaged. But they're a fragment of overall society.

"There's a larger segment of society that's sitting in their rooms on social media, Snapchatting and watching Netflix," said Lyman. "I'm starting to see those kids realizing they have no future doing just that—they need to get out and get engaged."

The Vans Warped Tour kicks off June 21 in Pomona, California and makes its final stop in West Palm Beach, Florida on August 5.

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Paul Gaita lives in Los Angeles. He has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Variety, LA Weekly, Amazon.com and The Los Angeles Beat, among many other publications and websites.