LAUSD “Where’s Daryl?” Educational Program




“Where’s Daryl?” is an anti-gun violence educational toolkit for educators and middle-school youth. The program emphasizes prevention, and asks youth to consider their assumptions about guns and discuss the real negative impacts they can have on their lives and goals.

The Where’s Daryl?” Educational toolkit was made possible by a generous SAPPI Ideas that Matter Grant.

SAPPI  Ideas that Matter, focuses on using design to create social change by pairing designers with nonprofits from around the world to implement their ideas.


“The curriculum materials are of extraordinarily high quality, and the middle-school students they’re designed for are ideal candidates for this campaign.  The tone and the approach are fresh and the pilot program here in Los Angeles holds promise for national expansion.”

– Timothy Kordic, Los Angeles Unified School District and “Where’s Daryl” Lead Partner



The “Where’s Daryl?” Educational Program has expanded East!  In the Spring of 2019, the program was implemented in a middle school in the District of Columbia.

Check back for more implementation updates as the”Where’s Daryl?” Educational Program continues to expand.

Introduction and Implementation



The “Where’s Daryl?” educational program is one of the outcomes of the Nathan Cummings Foundation-funded Uncool Initiative, which was conceived in 2011 in an Art Center College of Design advertising studio that asked students to create an educational violence and gun prevention campaign for Los Angeles youth, in partnership with the Los Angeles Unified School District.   Since 2011, working alongside Timothy Kordic of the District’s Health Education Program, Art Center alumna Maria Moon and Elisa Ruffino, Designmatters Director, were tasked with refining “Where’s Daryl?” into a fully-realized Educational Toolkit that could be deployed through the LAUSD network in participating middle schools across Los Angeles.

Developed in consultation with a curricular experts from LAUSD, the “Where’s Daryl?” Educational Toolkit is fully aligned with health education standards and has seen implementation within seven high-risk schools in the district via two pilot phases conducted in spring 2013 and fall 2014.  The 2014 rollout assessed an improved version of the Toolkit with refined messaging and lesson plans, based on rigorous evaluation and teacher feedback.  Adjustments were made to the Toolkit design by alumna Moon, in order to streamline components and make the project more affordable and easy to produce and deploy.

The program won an Ideas That Matter award from Sappi Fine Paper North America, and has reached nearly 2000 middle-school students during the two pilot rollouts.

“Where’s Daryl” is one of the projects included in the  By the People: Designing a Better America exhibition at the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in New York City, September 30, 2016 through February 26, 2017.

“By the People: Designing a Better America”  explores interdisciplinary and innovative design responses to the growing social, economic and environmental challenges faced by United States urban, suburban and rural communities.

In partnership with the Los Angeles School District, Designmatters students in the Fall 2016 Where’s Daryl? Interaction Design Studio developed a new website portal for the campaign that will enable a scalable rollout of “Where’s Daryl” beyond the Los Angeles School District. When launched, the site will provide  a DIY downloadable/printable version of the Toolkit for educators to easily print and assemble.  The portal will also provide teachers with an essential feedback loop to LAUSD for the Toolkit’s continued evaluation and assessment.




The “Where’s Daryl?” campaign and educational toolkit features Daryl, a fictional middle schooler whose life has been brought to a standstill because he got involved with guns. The campaign’s educational toolkit is created to contain everything a teacher needs in order to spark critical thinking and discussion.  Through eight freestanding lesson plans using imagination, humor and narrative voices as tools, students are asked to reflect on what Daryl did, why he did it, what he’s missing out on and what he could have done to prevent getting involved with guns. Most importantly, the campaign empowers students to foster their own actionable language as well as to identify their trusted network of support.  Campaign materials include:

  • “Where’s Daryl?” Teacher’s Guide, offering a highly flexible set of lessons for use in the classroom.  (Available for download at the sidebar, below left.)
  • Educational Toolkit and Classroom Materials

The full toolkit contains pre-printed worksheets and media materials for each of the lessons, including a life-sized cutout of Daryl for the classroom and a “Where’s Daryl?” DVD that contains four short videos. These engaging videos are meant to prompt discussion in the classroom, and present Daryl’s absence from important events and milestones, illustrating to students a very real consequence of breaking gun laws.

“Where’s Daryl?” asks students to consider the potential impact of guns in their own lives. Rather than rely on the scores of statistics and threats, “Where’s Daryl?” uses 
a fictional character who is missing the things he loves most: birthday parties, shooting hoops, his first love, etc., all because he thought guns were “okay.” By imbuing the “Daryl” curriculum into the fabric of a classroom, and through creative learning and play, teachers will help raise awareness and guide students to develop strategies to avoid guns in their own lives.

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Project Research and Development



“Where’s Daryl?” is the result of an ongoing collaboration with LAUSD’s Health Education Programs which serves, approximately 680,000 students in the district. The project has been developed over two phases:

1/ A 2011 advertising studio at Art Center which engaged the project partner, youth focus groups and a number of stakeholders, and which offered opportunities for the design team to lead primary research that was complemented with a broad set of secondary research sources. In this phase, a number of campaign directions emerged, and “Where’s Daryl?” was selected after initial concept testing among stakeholders.  Please see the studio’s Process Book on the sidebar below, available for download.

2/ The development and implementation phase, led by Maria Moon and Elisa Ruffino over 2012-2013, which delivered the program for a pilot rollout which to be executed in collaboration with  LAUSD.  In this phase the educational tool kit was redesigned to comply with LAUSD health standards for learning outcomes, and presents actionable lessons ready for teachers to deploy in the classroom.  The curricular development for the program’s implementation was inspired by direct feedback from LAUSD education experts, which yielded several important outcomes for the team:

Confirming the appropriateness of “Where’s Daryl?” – Experts confirmed that middle school students would be ideal candidates for this campaign, and that the tone and the approach felt fresh and likely relevant to a student audience.

Reinforcing the reality of resources – Experts emphasized important considerations teachers would face in deploying “Where’s Daryl?” in the classroom: limited time and resources. Teachers indicated they would be best served by materials that were packaged and ready to go “right out of the box.”

Raising the rate of implementation by flexibility – Experts encouraged exercises that could flexible in nature for teachers to adapt to their schedules and classroom capacities.

Affirming steps for national scalability – Experts affirmed the viability for national scalability and suggested incorporating assessment measures to capture success and opportunities for improvement.


Our hope for the “Where’s Daryl?” educational toolkit is to impact the lives of today’s middle schoolers by empowering them to develop meaningful peer-to-peer dialogue around gun violence, peer pressure and choices—ultimately sparking critical thinking to counteract the perceived glamorization of guns that is so prevalent in their daily lives.

– Elisa Ruffino, Director, Designmatters Department and Strategic Development Lead, “Where’s Daryl?”

Classroom Materials


Lesson 1: Here are the Facts


“Where’s Daryl?” is an 8 lesson program that can be tailored to a teacher’s allotted classroom time.  For each lesson, there are dedicated materials from the educational toolkit. But first the program encourages teachers to have their students complete anassessment on how they feel about guns before and after completion of the program.

Lesson 1: Here are the Facts

The first lesson introduces students to the facts about guns and gun violence. Discussions include the number of gun deaths and injuries in the U.S., the number in the U.S. compared to other countries, the number of households with guns, gun laws relating to adults and teens, gun safety, and consequences of having a gun at school. The Activities gauge a student’s comprehension of gun violence in the U.S. and initiates discussions about guns and the possible consequences of getting involved with guns.

Lesson 1 Activities:

1. Distribute & Host – Pass out the “Gun Violence Myth or Fact” handout to every student in class. Host a discussion.

2. Screen “Where’s Daryl?” DVD – Show the four short videos.

3. Create groups – Have class form groups of 3-4 students. Pass out “Who’s Daryl?” worksheet to each group and Instruct groups to develop a story about whom they “think” Daryl is. Students should use the facts they learned as the background for their story. An example of this could be: “Daryl’s dad has a gun under the bed. It’s not in a locked cabinet.” Or “Daryl’s cousin found a gun in a dumpster and showed it to Daryl. They couldn’t tell whether or not it was loaded.”

4. Share conclusions – Have the groups present the developed stories to the entire class.

5. Launch “Where’s Daryl?” – Pass out the “Where’s Daryl?” buttons for each student in class.

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Lesson 2: Peer Influences




In this lesson, students are prompted to discuss why Daryl might have done what he did. Central to the discussion are the types of influences that Daryl has in his life and how these could either positively or negatively affect his decision to get a gun. Examples of influences include media (TV, movies, Internet, music, magazines) and relationships with family, friends, neighbors, his girlfriend, and others.

Lesson 2 Activities:

1. Create groups – Class forms groups of 3-4 students. Teachers hand out bulletin board panels, magazines, drawings and craft materials to the groups.

2. Collage – Students are asked to make a “Collage of Influences” using their own drawing, cutouts of images and words from magazines/online, and craft materials to make a group collage. Students can also write and post words that the images make them think of. The students pin/tape their collages to the bulletin board panels.

3. Share – The groups present their collages in front of the class, describing the positive and negative influences that are represented in their collage.

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Lesson 3: Taking Risks



In this lesson, students discuss risky situations that Daryl could have gotten into with regard to a gun.

Lesson 3 Activities:

1. Create groups – Class forms groups of 3-4 students

2. Discuss – The discussion begins by asking how a young person may get access to a gun. For example: “Daryl’s friend brings a gun to school.” “Daryl discovers that his mom’s gun is not locked up and decides to play around with it.” “Daryl’s older brother in high school invites him to his first party and one of his brothers friends shows off the gun he is carrying.” Teachers facilitate a conversation with the students on other examples they can think of that give access to guns to young people. Students then discuss all of the things that could go wrong with each situation. For example, trouble with law enforcement for Daryl or others who might play with the gun, accidentally harming someone or himself, or accidentally killing himself or others.

3. Story making – Teachers hand out the “Daryl Gets a Gun” A and B worksheets, to each group. Each group will make up their own story about what happened to Daryl, using the Daryl Gets a Gun Worksheets. Each cell in the worksheet should be a single event in Daryl’s story line.

4. Story sharing – Students can tape their worksheets to the wall or pin to the bulletin board panels. Students then share their stories with the class. After each story is shared, teacher leads discussion to help  process the decisions Daryl made in each story.

5. Keep for later – Keep worksheets to be referenced in Lessons 5 & 6.

Lesson 4: Dangerous Situations



Students discuss the process for reporting a dangerous situation like seeing a gun at school. Teachers lecture about all of the ways that this reporting could occur, including ways to report anonymously while framing the issue of reporting as keeping students safe and as caring for what happens to a friend, as opposed to tattling on the person or people with the gun. Then students write down the different ways that they could report.

Lesson 4 Activities:

1. Discuss “dangerous” – Teacher prompts a discussion with students on what they would consider a dangerous situation. Students are given  2-3 “At Risk” sticky notes to list their responses.

2. Create a chart – In the classroom, teachers place 3 pieces of chart paper that read “low risk,” “medium risk,” and “high risk.”

3. Categorize risks – Students categorize the list by “low risk,” “medium risk,” and “high risk” and place the sticky notes under the corresponding category.

4. Create solutions – Teachers assess each dangerous situation on the list and discuss with the students why this would be considered a dangerous situation at the specific ranking. Students come up with a list of solutions (decisions) for removing themselves from the situation or avoiding it entirely. The teacher leads a discussion on what reporting options they may have when encountering a dangerous situation. For example, “Do they keep it to themselves?” “Do they tell friends?” “Do they go to their parents?” or maybe “They go to the police.”

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Lesson 5: Refusal Skills & Peer Pressure



This lesson covers dealing with peer pressure and learning refusal skills regarding guns. Students will learn what to say and do if they find themselves in a dangerous situation.

Lesson 5 Activities:

1. Meet Daryl – Teachers place the Daryl cutout in the front of the classroom. Students discuss their first impression of Daryl, by just seeing his picture.

2. Create groups – Class forms groups of 3-4 students.

3. Distribute – Using the worksheets created in Lesson 3, each group is given two scenarios (2 worksheet sets).

4. Create & cast roles – Students read their first scenario. The students must come up with an ending using the Daryl cutout. Have the students distribute the roles among themselves in the scenario.

5. Practice & perform – The students are  given a 3-5 minutes to practice the scenarios themselves. Using the Daryl cutout, have each group role play the scenario in front of the class.

6. Review – After each role play, the students discuss what they thought about the scenario.  Students then discuss if they would label the situation “safe,” “risky,” or “dangerous.”  The students then come up with other ways that Daryl could have handled the situation and list, on a classroom board, peer pressure phrases and the different ways that Daryl could have said no in each scenario.

7. Perform sequel – The groups role play one of the new outcomes to display a better decision being made. If there is time, students can also repeat this process (steps 4–7) with their second scenario.

8. Collect & keep – Teacher collects and keep worksheets from Lesson 3 to be re-used in Lesson 6.

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Lesson 6: Trusted Adults



This lesson concerns the importance of reporting dangerous situations, such as those involving guns, to a trusted adult. Students will discuss various adults they could talk to.

Lesson 6 Activities:

1. Discuss and capture – Students describe what a trusted adult would be like. The teacher leads a general discussion with the entire class for multiple responses and charts the responses. The class then discusses the importance of knowing a trusted adult when they are having trouble making a decision on what may be safe, or how to help them when a situation becomes risky.

2. Identify – Using the “Risk Category Charts” from Lesson 4, each student identifies ONE trusted adult they could report a dangerous situation to for “low risk,” “medium risk,” and “high risk.” The students then put up a sticky note with their trusted adult on the wall/chart, under specific rank.

3. Observe and discuss – Is there a difference in if they had a trusted adult more in one area versus the other? Is there someone you would tell? Using these prompt questions, students discuss why they may have a trusted adult for one situation and not another and what might hold a student back from sharing difficult information. Lastly, students talk about how they might begin to discuss a difficult topic with an adult.

4. Emphasize – Teacher emphasizes the importance of having a trusted adult in their lives and to always take the important step of asking for help or support when needed.

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Lesson 7: Solutions & Interventions Points



For this lesson, students  identify places in their storyline where Daryl could have made a better decision, or where there could have been an intervention from friends, teachers, or others that would have resulted in a better outcome for Daryl.

Lesson 7 Activities:

1. Create groups – Class forms groups of 3-4 students. Each group is hanged a “Daryl Gets a Gun” worksheet from Lesson 3 and have them review Daryl’s story.

2. Identify – Students identify each of the places in their stories where a better decision by an individual would have led to a better outcome.

3. Intervene – The group record this info on sticky notes, and stick them to the corresponding place on their “Daryl Gets a Gun” worksheet.

4. Share – The group members pin the sticky notes to the classroom bulletin board and present their intervention points to class.

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Lesson 8: Setting a Goal



This lesson covers setting goals for your life. Students discuss how Daryl’s getting a gun could mess up his life plans. Reflect back on the videos and what he missed out on. Teacher discusses with students how making a commitment to avoid dangerous situations can help them to reach the positive goals in their life.

Lesson 8 Activities:

1. My Top 20: What I love – Teacher distributes the “My Top 20+10″ worksheet to the students. Students use the handout to create a list of 20 everyday activities that they love to do: it could be with family, friends, hobbies, or experiences that they enjoy. Students are then given 2-3 “My Top 20″ sticky notes in order to, transfer their top item from their list onto the Top 20 sticky notes and post up on either classroom bulletin board panels or on wall.

2. Discuss – The teacher prompts a discussion in the classroom regarding Daryl and what his absence is affecting.

3. Review – Students revisit the videos seen at the beginning of the curriculum and discuss what in the videos Daryl was missing out on.

4. Imagine – Students discuss the opportunities that can exist if they avoid the situation Daryl put himself in (i.e., possibilities of graduating high school, going to college, etc.). Students then provide some ideas on how they plan to avoid the mistakes made by Daryl.

5. 10 things I can’t wait to do – Students complete the second section of the worksheet, “I can’t wait to.” Students add to the list 10 things they look forward to doing in the next 3-4 years.

6. Wrap up – Teacher leads discussion on the  importance of making good decisions in order to reach the life goals they have set for themselves. “Where’s Daryl?” stickers are distributed to students as a token reminder of what they learned and their goals.

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In developing the design of the “Where’s Daryl?” educational toolkit for teachers and students, there were several challenges to consider: teachers concerns for pressed time, lack of resources and materials and even a comfortable way to talk about gun violence. To solve these issues we created a kit of ready-to-use materials and activities that focused on creating an experience where teachers would facilitate students to explore, imagine, project, and develop their own language around gun violence.

– Maria Moon, “Where’s Daryl?” Design Development Lead and Art Center Alumna

Educational Toolkit (Excerpt)

Where's Daryl? Educational toolkit Poster / One Sheet

The poster for the “Where’s Daryl? Educational Toolkit” presented at the APHA Public Health Expo. (2014)


Process Book

The Uncool Process Book

The Uncool Process Book follows the 2011 Uncool Project through two phases, which culminated in the development of the LAUSD “Where’s Daryl?” Educational Program.

Published by Designmatters

Download PDF

Project Publicity

LAUSDSappi: Ideas that Matter