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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.