Drug – Free
CANDLE, Inc. was founded as a 501c3 non-profit in 2004, after the success of the grassroots Reality Tour that started in Butler, PA. CANDLE is served by a board of directors and is listed on PA’s Bureau of Charitable Organizations. Norma Norris, originator of the Reality Tour, is the Executive Director. CANDLE directly oversees 3 Reality Tour Programs as well as over a dozen licensed Reality Tour Program Models.
It is the mission of the non-profit CANDLE, Inc. to provide consequence-driven, innovative, contemporary, cost-effective, and replicable drug prevention education at the community level to educate parent and child together via the evidence-based Reality Tour Drug Prevention Program.
CANDLE will address drug abuse as a public health issue and be a leader in community-based prevention demonstrating to communities ways to effectively network existing resources to provide evidence-based prevention to parents and their children on an ongoing basis.
In 2003, I wanted to do something about kids becoming addicted to drugs and dying from heroin overdoses in my community. Since kids have drug prevention education from K-12, either they didn’t believe what they were being told in class, or they didn’t think the consequences could happen to them. I realized that parents, like me, were clueless as to what temptations our children experience daily (1 in 4 families have a member struggling with addiction).
I felt that parent and child need to be on the same page, with the same information. That information had to be delivered in an engaging manner; it had to be true, emotionally charged and consequence-driven.
After considerable research, I left my 21 -year career in radio advertising to follow my passion for protecting families and put together a program that incorporated the community in the presentation. I called it Reality Tour™. The health care community, law enforcement, recovery community, civic organizations, youth groups and the average citizen volunteered their time and talents (Time involved – as little as 1 – 2 hours a month). The program developed into a 3- hour comprehensive experience for parents and children age 10+. It was anchored by a narrative portrayal of a teen on drugs.
Reality Tour® was originally meant to be a monthly presentation for just 3 months in the summer of 2003. So many parents wanted to attend with their child, that at the end of 3 months there was a 2- month waiting list. We extended the program through the end of 2003 and still there was a 2 month wait list! The program has continued in Butler, PA since 2003, serving over 10,000 residents and expanding to 3 sites in Butler County. The Reality Tour ® Program Model was introduced in 2004, so other communities could start the program. Over 35,000+ PA residents have attended the program.
Reality Tour® received the national ‘Acts of Caring Award’ in 2005 and ‘Community-Based Crime Prevention Program of 2008. It was accepted to the federal government’s National Registry of Evidence Based Programs and Practices – NREPP in 2011, where it remains as a Legacy Program (2018)
Research on the program has been conducted by the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Pharmacy, showing that 92% of youth attending the Reality Tour® use the information within 30 days of attending. It has proven to form the foundation for more frequent parent/child discussion and increases the ease of discussion between parent and child.
Even youth who are actively experimenting with drugs have been impacted. In October a 16 -year old girl who was using marijuana, attended the Reality Tour® in Greensburg, PA and wrote that she didn’t expect to learn anything, but what she saw totally changed her mind and she was giving up marijuana. She pledged to be drug-free and recommended the program to her friends remarking that, “After going to Reality Tour, I don’t even know what to say – except drugs aren’t worth it!”
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