BUTLER, PA - The original Butler Reality Tour Parent/Child Drug Prevention Program will now be held at Monarch Place (100 Brugh Ave.) Their first program of the year is to be held Monday, April 11 at 6 PM. Tours are held the second Monday of the month. Families with children age 10 and up may register online at www.RealityTour.org. Cost is $5 per person.
This special re-launch of Reality Tour will be held in memory of Steven Daniel Saeler. Close family and friends kindly donated funds to CANDLE, Inc. to honor his memory and to allow more families to be given the opportunity to experience Reality Tour. “We are very touched by this loving, kind, and generous way to remember Steve. We would be honored to have the Reality Tour dedicated to the memory of Steve. If it reaches even one person to have a better life free of drugs, he and we, would rejoice.” – Ray & Patricia Saeler
Reality Tour is looking to refresh the volunteer force as well. Youth and adult volunteers are needed. Those interested in volunteering may email CarolGreen@candleinc.org or (ph: 724-679-6612)
Youth roles needed:
Adult roles needed:
Reality Tour is a drug prevention education experience for parents and their children age 10 and up to attend together. Throughout the tour families are shown the consequences of drug use, informed on drug trends and learn family coping skills to stay drug free. Local law enforcement and representatives from the recovery community are interviewed. CANDLE, Inc., the nonprofit that manages Reality Tour is pleased to have 17 replications in Pennsylvania, 8 in other states and 2 in Canada. There has been recent interest in replicating the program from communities in Kansas, Wisconsin, Maryland and Canada.
March 1, 2016
MONROEVILLE PA – Allegheny County has recently picked up the grassroots parent & child drug prevention program Reality Tour. Gateway School District voted this past fall to purchase Reality Tour as a prevention measure for the district. Jennifer Turkowski, Assistant Principal at Gateway High School and Resource Officer, Mark Kandrack has this to say, “Reality Tour is a ‘Real Life’ depiction of the potential dangers of drug use. We feel that Reality Tour is a more realistic approach to the consequences of drug and alcohol abuse. The ‘Just Say No to Drugs’ philosophy in the past was successful but we feel in today’s society kids need to see these potential dangers rather than being told about them.”
Gateway School District’s Reality Tour will be held at the Crossroads Presbyterian Church in Monroeville and will host their very first tour this month. This will be the first Reality Tour to start in Allegheny County with more interest from Baldwin-Whitehall and Glassport areas to start the program like Gateway.
Reality Tour is an evening experience is for parents and their children ages 10 and up to learn about the harmful effects of substance abuse. It is a MUST that parents attend with their child. During the tour parents and children are shown the consequences of one youths progressive choices to try drugs, listen to an educational presentation on risk factors and family coping skills, as well as a guided assessment of strengths and gaps in healthy habits. Each family is provided conversation starter tools and activities to implement at home. A law enforcement officer and a member of the recovery community will also be given the opportunity to share their experiences to the group.
Reality Tour, a project of the Butler based nonprofit CANDLE, Inc. has 18 replications of Reality Tour in Pennsylvania and replications in 5 other states. They have just licensed their fourth California Reality Tour. Two provinces in Canada replicate the program as well. Several more Allegheny County communities are working with CANDLE, Inc. to get a program started.
For more information on this grassroots prevention program and the Gateway School District Reality Tour visit their newly redesigned website at www.RealityTour.org.
Reality Tour Developer and nonprofit CANDLE, Inc. Executive Director, Norma Norris started the program in Butler back in 2003. She wanted to do something about kids becoming addicted to drugs an dying from overdoses in her community. Her goal was to get parent child on the same page with the same information. The program delivers that information in an engaging manner, truthfully and consequence driven. For more information visit www.RealityTour.org.
HIGHMARK Blue Cross Blue Shield Grant to Provide REALITY TOUR© Drug Prevention Experience for at-Risk Youths
BUTLER, PA - CANDLE, Inc., the non-profit parent organization responsible for the Reality Tour© Drug Prevention Program, has received a $5,000 grant from Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield to reach at-risk youths ages 10-18. The grant will be used in Butler, Westmoreland and Lawrence County where CANDLE operates satellite Reality Tour© programs.
Commenting on the award, Executive Director of CANDLE, Inc. and creator of the Reality Tour Norma Norris remarked, "The award from Highmark will allow CANDLE, Inc. to provide at-risk youth referrals with the New Face of Drugs take-home DVD and Reality Tour “I Promise”' logo items to make the entire prevention experience even more memorable. We will reach out to at-risk youths to offer to train them as volunteers too. It could make all the difference in the life of a child." Seventy-five youths will be served within the three counties over a twelve month period.”
“Drug prevention education is extremely important for teenagers," said Mary Anne Papale, Highmark Community Affairs director. "By providing youths with the tools and programs to reinforce the dangers of drug usage, we hope to help them adopt and maintain healthy lifestyles."
The award comes at a time when CANDLE, Inc. is undergoing research to test the effectiveness of the consequence-driven program on youths. The Reality Tour© depicts the life and death of a teen on heroin and includes a Q&A session with law enforcement and addicts in recovery. The effectiveness research project is in conjunction with the University of Pittsburgh's School of Pharmacology under the direction of Dr. Janice Pringle. It is expected that the survey results will make it possible for CANDLE, Inc.'s Reality Tour© to reach evidence-based status and qualify for listing on the National Registry of Evidence-Based Prevention Programs.
Butler County Reality Tours© are scheduled in Butler at the YWCA, Slippery Rock University and Mars Home for Youth. In Westmoreland and Lawrence counties the program is held in the government center. Registration forms are online at www.realitytour.org or you may phone 724-679-6612 for more information.
In 2006, HIGHMARK Blue Cross Blue Shield provided over $242 million in financial support for programs in support of its corporate mission to provide access to affordable, quality health care enabling individuals to live longer, healthier lives. HIGHMARK exerts an enormous economic impact throughout Pennsylvania. A recent study states that HIGHMARK’s positive impact exceeds $2.5 billion. The company serves 3.1 million members and employs more than 5,000 people in the region.
HIGHMARK Blue Cross Blue Shield is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, it is an association of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans. For more information about HIGHMARK Blue Cross Blue Shield, visit www.highmark.com.
CANDLE, Inc. offers contact information and video clips of The Reality Tour at www.candleinc.org.
Reality Tour ® FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 8/13/14 Karns City School District 724-756-2030
100 Brugh Ave. Butler, PA 16001
Deaths of six KC former players, in the years after graduation, inspires coach to take action.
Butler / Karns City, PA: The Karns City football team is moving up in the state and national rankings and they are now first in the local ranking for county teams to attend the Reality Tour Drug Prevention Program. This year Coach Ed Conto’s preparation for the Gremlin’s 2014 season is about more than push- ups and playbooks, “Year after year, former players are losing their lives to drugs and alcohol after graduation. Six former players have died as the result of drugs or alcohol. ”
That is why, after practice on Monday thirty players boarded a bus, courtesy of local carrier Shriver Bus Company, to meet up with their parents at the Reality Tour Drug Prevention Program held at the YWCA in Butler. Next Monday another 30 players and parents will make the same trip. Karns City football team will then have full bragging rights for 100% team attendance.
Preparations for this experience began last summer when the Butler nonprofit CANDLE, Inc. proposed to Superintendent Dr. Eric Ritzert and Coach Conto to ‘lend a hand’ to help provide a powerful drug prevention experience for players and their parents. Tara Maziarz, Public Relations Director for CANDLE, Inc., helped design the agency’s new ‘Lend A Hand’ approach because, “Coaches have influence over their players and can lend a hand to help deliver that target audience. We also realize that football players influence other students. Our agency wanted to tap into both dynamics to raise drug awareness.”
In developing the Lend A Hand approach, open to any team, club etc., CANDLE was keying off the success of Grove City Rotary’s Reality Tour experience. Grove City football coach Jeff Bell asked Rotary to schedule a private presentation for his team during the 2013 football season. In the middle of the season, when the team was vying for playoff positon, Coach Bell substituted Reality Tour for a team practice. Club President Darla Motta recalls the event, “It was an emotional evening with Coach Bell wrapping up the program with a heartfelt plea to his players to stay safe, stay drug/alcohol-free. You could see his genuine concern for these young lives.”
At Monday’s Reality Tour, Karns City players had the opportunity to commit to staying drug-free by tracing their handprint on a banner in front of their coach and parents as part of the evening’s activities. Reality Tour took participants for a ‘walk in the life and death of a teen on drugs’ to show via dramatic scenes - Arrest, ER and Funeral - that the consequences of drug abuse are real. All the while, the narrative of the addict during the scenes issued the refrain, “Once I was just like you.” This resonated with at least one teen who commented on his survey, “The consequences can happen to anyone. This program taught me to treasure my life.”
The prevention journey moved on to the dangers of designer drugs like ‘Molly’ and ‘Ecstasy’. The prior weekend’s news meshed with the message that popular music glorifies drugs and Molly in particular. (Molly is methylenedioxymethamphetamine, more commonly referred to as MDMA — the active ingredient in the party drug Ecstasy.) Two young people died from overdose last weekend at a Maryland concert and 20 more were treated for overdose. Tragedies like this are occurring at concerts across the US with increasing frequency.
Before wrapping up, ways to manage daily life were explored in a coping skills segment. Reality Tour Developer and Director, Norma Norris reminded parents that, “Spaghetti and meatballs equals drug prevention.” This related to her encouragement for families to connect by having five sit down meals each week.” Life skills for youth were given in a checklist of healthy behaviors like volunteering. Players made notes on skills to improve upon in the months and years ahead. The exercise led one teen to write, “It is important to surround myself with friends that don’t use drugs and alcohol.” In the final segment, law enforcement and two youth in recovery from participated in a Q & A session. As players left they were given their photograph that had been morphed in appearance to remind them that drugs can change you on the inside and the outside. The photograph was imprinted on a form that listed area resources that offer help for substance abuse.
Reflecting on the Karns City Football Team attendance success, Norris states that, “When school officials and staff have the courage to admit there is a need for prevention, they open up the opportunity to change lives and save lives. Every school, every community is affected by substance abuse. Prevention can only begin when dialogue begins.”
Parents had the last word Monday night when they filled out their surveys with positive comments like, “Thank you. You are changing lives.” and “Keep up the good work this was priceless.”
CANDLE, Inc.’s Reality Tour is an evidence-based program that started in Butler, PA at the grassroots level in 2003. It was researched by the University of Pittsburgh and is now listed on the federal government’s National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices. The program, presented by volunteers, has reached over 9,000 Butler County residents in monthly presentations at the YWCA in Butler and Adams Township Municipal Building in Mars.
Replications of Reality Tour in other states and communities has reached over 30,000 families. The Alcoa Foundation awarded a 2-year grant to CANDLE, Inc. in 2013 to establish four more Reality Tour sites through service clubs. The four new sites are ready to open in the fall of 2014 with the aid of Westmoreland County’s Latrobe and Belle Vernon Rotary Clubs, the Kaiman Club in Jefferson County and the Jaycees in Somerset County.
Registration forms are online at www.RealityTour.org There is online registration for CANDLE’s Family Health Policy home-drug testing program as well. The next Butler County Reality Tour at the YWCA will be Monday September 8th and in Mars the date is Thursday, September 25th. To inquire about a private Reality Tour for a team or club, or to consider starting a Reality Tour email NormaNorris@candleinc.org or phone 724-679-1788.
Note to media:
Space is limited at the Monday, August 18th private Karns City Football Team Reality Tour held at
the Butler YWCA, 120 W. Cunningham Street, Butler, PA 16001, beginning at 6pm and ending at 9pm
We are at capacity and will need notice to accommodate news media.
No filming or photography is allowed during the Recovery Spokesperson segment that begins at 8:30pm
No filming is allowed in holding cell scene. Filming of ER and Funeral must allow best view to participants.
Please phone Norma Norris 724-679-1788 PRIOR to 4pm day of event. Email: NormaNorris@candleinc.org
Greensburg, PA - Hempfield School District has been working with the non-profit CANDLE, Inc., a
pioneer in the prevention field, to provide parents of 6th and 7th grade students with a powerful prevention
tool. The district will give interested parents CANDLE’s Family Health Policy Parent Packet.
The Parent Packets contain a 10 panel home drug test kit and enrollment in CANDLE’s random
notification service that will pick the time to test so that neither the child nor the parent can anticipate the
notice. CANDLE sends one notice to the parent during the one year enrollment, but may send two or
even three notices. CANDLE developed the notification service after doing research that showed parents
think home drug testing is a good idea, but they don’t like to choose the time to test.
Hempfield School Board President Randy Stoner feels this is definitely the right direction for the
district, “We have to involve the parents because they are still the most powerful prevention tool, and we
have to educate them. Attending Reality Tour at the Westmoreland court house is also recommended.”
Superintendent Andy Leopold offers that, “Entering Middle School is pivotal time of change and we want
to build awareness for both students and parents.”
Parents of 6th grade students in Hempfield’s three Middle Schools will receive enrollment forms at the
scheduled orientations this week and next and view a presentation that cites the alarming trends in teen
substance abuse. Parents of 7th grade students will have the opportunity to ‘opt in’ at the September Open
CANDLE, Executive Director Norma Norris states, “While being this proactive may seem ‘ahead of
the times’ we want to let parents know that this measure is actually needed now. By the time student’s
graduate, 48% will have used an illicit substance. Marijuana has now moved to the #1 drug of choice
with prescription meds as #2. Teens almost never move on to illicit drugs if they haven’t tried marijuana
and that drug stays in the system a long time to allow detection. The average age for experimenting with
prescription drugs is now age 13 and everyday 2500 teens will abuse these drugs for the first time. “
When it comes to having an ironclad excuse not to use drugs, Norris feels that home-drug testing, done as
a routine family health measure works, especially when adopted in pre-teen or early teen years. The time
to test affords another opportunity to have a discussion with a child about drugs and alcohol. According to
Norris, “If your child agreed to be home drug-tested at 13, when they are 16 they aren’t likely to ask for
the car keys and announce that they don’t want to be drug-tested any longer.”
The 10 panel drug test kits test for: Amphetamines, methamphetamines, barbiturates, benzodiazepines,
cocaine, methadone, opiates (heroin, morphine, codeine), marijuana, Oxycodone (OxyContin, OxyIR,
OxyFast, Percodan, Percocet and synthetic opiates. Instructions are included in the Family Health Policy
Parent Packet. The school’s website will also link to audio instructions and an interview with a parent
whose teen became addicted and wishes he had this type of home testing program.
The Family Health Policy Parent Packets will be introduced into the high school in Dixie County Florida
this month as well. Other schools are looking into this new program.
CANDLE is becoming known across the nation as an innovator for prevention of substance because of the
Reality Tour Drug Prevention Program that is now in 18 PA communities and 8 other states. Reality Tour
was recently accepted by the federal government as an evidence-based program and Norris, the developer,
was invited to Washington D.C. to meet with other prevention developers from across the country.
Any parent can start to use CANDLE’s home drug testing program. Access to the Family Health Policy
Parent Packets on their website at www.RealityTour.org Enrollment is $25 per year and that includes one
test kit. The website also shows where Reality Tours are located throughout PA and the nation and how
to get the program started if you don’t have one.