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OAK HILL — A “Reality Tour” depicting realistic scenes about the consequences of drug use is set for Tuesday in Oak Hill. Pre-registration is required.

Part live performance, part info session, the Reality Tour is “an intimate journey with a teen on drugs,” exposing its audience to the grief and turmoil experienced by the family of a drug user. Dramatic scenes depict peer pressure, arrest, imprisonment, trauma and even death.

“The dramatic scenes are as close as one can come to experiencing this lifestyle without making the same choices,” say event organizers.

“The overall message of the Reality Tour combats the youthful belief that ‘It can’t happen to me.’”

Question and answer sessions with law enforcement and a recovered addict attempt to bring the “tour” even closer to home.

Event organizers say the Reality Tour is appropriate for children ages 10 and up when accompanied by a parent, guardian or caring adult.

The program puts information in the hands of both parents and their children, which organizers say encourages communication, conversation and goal setting.

“Most substance abuse prevention education programs target just the youth or just the parents. It is unique to have one program that provides the same information together,” organizers wrote.

A group of kids from area schools will be coming to the event, says coordinator Nikki Slaughter.

“We’re growing, which is encouraging,” she says.

The Reality Tour is Tuesday from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Lewis Center in Oak Hill. A suggested $5 donation is requested at the door, but no one will be refused entry. Pre-register for the event by calling Nikki Slaughter (304-719-3443) or Bobbie Gravely (304-575-0543).

 

By C.V. Moore
Register-Herald Reporter

— OAK HILL — The Fayette County Family Resource Network (FRN) dispenses a dose of reality May 15, when they stage another Reality Tour to raise local awareness about drug abuse.

The reality tour incorporates live re-enactments of peer pressure, arrest, imprisonment, emergency room trauma and a funeral.

“The dramatic scenes are as close as one can come to experiencing this lifestyle without making the same choices,” says a statement from the FRN.

Question and answer sessions with law enforcement and a recovering addict are also a part of the evening.

Among the targets of the Reality Tour are parents and their children (age 10 and older). The FRN believes the event “encourages communication, conversation, and goal setting” among parents and youth about the consequences of drug use.

“Most substance abuse prevention education programs target just the youth or just the parents — it is unique to have one program that provides the same information together,” says the organization.

The first Reality Tour in West Virginia was in Fayette County in March 2011, when 40 audience members experienced the performance.

“I recommend this for my friends so they can stay good and we can keep our relationship close,” said one youth afterward.

The event will be at the Lewis Center, 469 Central Ave., Oak Hill, from 6 to 8 p.m.

A $5 donation is requested, but no one will be denied entrance based on ability to pay.

Pre-registration is required.

E-mail Bobbie Gravley or Nikki Slaughter at FRN (fayettefrn@gmail. com) or call 304-575-0543 or 304-719-3443.

— E-mail:cmoore@register-herald.com

By Brad Pedersen
The Tribune Review
Posted July 3, 2012 @ 2:30 PM
Norwin, Pa.

The Norwin Lions Club has helped a national anti-drug program find a home in the Norwin region.

The club plans to work with Candle, Inc., a Butler-based non-profit agency, to offer the Reality Tour in September at JB's Bright Beginnings on Brush Hill Road in Irwin.

"The Reality Tour is a good, preventative program, targeting children and their parents to teach them about the process of addition," said Gina Davis, the director of the Norwin Reality Tour.

The tour first came to Westmoreland County in 2007, and had about 300 people attend eight sessions held in the Westmoreland County Courthouse. Since coming to the county, its popularity grew, forcing organizers to put participants on waiting lists, according to Norma Norris, Reality Tour director.

The Reality Tour is an anti-drug and anti-alcohol program, that features real stories and scenarios from people affected by drugs and alcohol.

The tour began in 2003 and it has locations in 10 states - including Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio - offer Reality Tour presentations, which are run by law-enforcement officers, health care officials and volunteers.

The audience is mostly sixth-graders who attend the three-hour program with their families, Norris said, although the program is appropriate for 10- to 17-year-olds. It features presentations by recovering addicts, parents who have lost a child to drug overdoses and law enforcement.

The program, which requires parents to attend with their children, helps open better lines of communications to discuss drugs, alcohol and addition, Norris said. It also aims to give parents a better understanding of what their children might encounter on a daily basis.

Norris said volunteers from the Norwin Lions Club, cooperation from the Irwin and North Huntingdon police departments and a $6,000 grant from the Community Foundation of Westmoreland County made the Norwin tour become a reality.

Norris expects the Norwin Reality Tour to become a long-lasting and successful program.

"The Reality Tour is based on demand, and the demand was so strong in Greensburg that, even after taking in two groups of 100 each month, we had to start a three-month waiting list," Norris said.

"With the volunteers, Norwin has all the ingredients to make its program as successful as what is offered at the courthouse."

The Norwin Reality Tour could accommodate between 30 and 100 participants, and organizers plan to offer one tour on the second Tuesday of each month. Each tour lasts three hours, Davis said.

The Norwin Lions Club plans to make the tour available to students in the Norwin and Penn-Trafford school districts, Davis said.

"We're targeting the fifth- and sixth-grade levels in those school districts, and eventually, we might be able to offer the tour to others in the area," Davis said. "We want to reach as many fifth- and sixth- graders as we can during our first year."

The Norwin Reality Tour is Candle's first expansion in Westmoreland County. Eventually, Norris said, she hopes the organization can offer the Reality Tour in two to four other areas throughout the county, including Mt. Pleasant and Kiski.

"The program is community-driven, and we hope to make it as personable as possible," Norris said. "When a Reality Tour is run by community volunteers, it really gives them the sense that they're taking care of their own, which is one of our goals."

For more information on the Reality Tour, visit www.realitytour.org, or contact Norma Norris at 724-679-1788.

Over 1,500 Butler County parents 'get it'. They understand their role in drug prevention and brought their children to the Reality Tour Drug Prevention Program, sitting beside them as members of the Drug Task Force told how drugs are robbing families of a future and burdening a community with crime. These parents stood close by their child in the Reality Tour's ER and funeral scene - scenes all too real for too many families. They listened as an addict in recovery answered pointed questions during this 3-hr intense comprehensive program. Over 3100 parents and children have attended Butler Reality Tours, conducted by the local non-profit CANDLE, Inc., since July 2003. Youth surveys reveal that 88% experience an increase and new ease in discussions with their parents about drugs after attending the Reality Tour. According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, the increased discussions can increase the child's prevention protection factor by 75%. Drug abuse has permeated all populations and statistics show that 1 in 4 American families has a member struggling with addiction.

Now local school districts 'get it' too. Schools have long felt that parents need to be more involved in prevention. Five of the seven Butler school districts responded to CANDLE's invitation to participate in Reality Tour Prevention Initiative partnerships. Through the partnerships districts are dedicating entire grade levels, typically 6th grade, to the Reality Tour experience and encouraging parents to attend the evening program with their child. South Butler, Mars, Karns City, Moniteau and Slippery Rock School Districts are encouraging parents to accompany their child to the monthly program's 'walk in the life and death of a teen on drugs'. South Butler School District's 6th grade was the successful pilot for the program in 2006. The district's students and parents were enthusiastic about participating and several continue as volunteers for the program. Assistant Principal Richard Cavett says Knoch Middle School is pleased with the results of the Prevention Initiative and "Students indicate that the Reality Tour has had a significant impact on them and their decisions not to use illegal drugs or alcohol. Many parents have been very impressed with the program as well." Cavett indicated the South Butler School District hopes to have a long partnership with the Reality Tour".

Norma Norris, executive director of CANDLE, Inc. and originator of the Reality Tour, explains the ongoing partnerships with the 6th grade in district schools have an eye to the future, "In coming years a greater percentage of each participating school's upper grades will have experienced a powerful prevention message to impact lifestyle choices". Statistics gathered from youth surveys show that 80% leave the Reality Tour committed to remain drug-free. Norris feels that by reaching this impressionable target population, the prevention message has an opportunity to gain traction among students who will share their Reality Tour experience in school and social settings. There are residual effects for parents as well, and in coming years it is hoped that the 'Tour' will become accepted as a 'rite of passage' in Butler County.

To handle the anticipated response from schools, CANDLE has opened Reality Tour sites at Slippery Rock University and Mars Home for Youth, while continuing the monthly presentation at the original YWCA location in downtown Butler. A grant from the Staunton Farm Foundation helped to establish the two new sites. The foundation also funded the research undertaken by the University of Pittsburgh's School of Pharmacy in preparation for the Reality Tour's submission as an evidence-based program.

Norris is quick to credit the community of Butler itself for the success of the volunteer-driven program and its replication in 16 other PA counties. The County of Butler, local law enforcement, ambulance providers, health professionals, agencies, as well as youth and adult volunteers from the community-at-large are where credit belongs according to her, and the reason why the program was given the national 'Acts of Caring Award' on Capitol Hill in 2005.