Today’s adolescent hasn’t known a time when drugs were not a threat to the well-being of youth. After attending the nonprofit CANDLE, Inc.’s Reality Tour Drug Prevention Program, a 12 year-old wrote a thank you to the volunteers for “Helping us with a problem so scary it shouldn’t exist.” Youth attending Reality Tour are appreciative they learn clear measures to implement to stay safe. Because parents attend along with their child, both leave on the same page with the foundation for years of open discussion – a key element in prevention.
CANDLE, Inc. is just wrapping up 15 years of presenting Reality Tour to families to help them safely navigate today’s environment. The program started in 2003 in Butler County, where a third site has opened in Cranberry Township aided by the Arconic and Pittsburgh Foundations. The community-based program has spread to envelope eighteen communities in Pennsylvania and it is replicated in seven other states. Maryland just came on board with one site and Wisconsin will open three Reality Tour sites in 2019. Other states include California (4 sites), Arizona, New York, Delaware (2 sites) and Michigan.
The nonprofit’s approach to prevention is grounded in research by the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Pharmacy and is dedicated to innovative, contemporary prevention measures. Reality Tour developer Norma Norris explains, “Prevention programs must be engaging and up to date to appeal to the masses. Communities need to always have prevention coming up on their calendar.” Reality Tour is proving to be the most popular family prevention program in the state. Parents are eager to attend. The four sites managed by CANDLE, Inc. received over 450 registrations in the past two months.
Innovation for 2018 includes a pilot program to deter teen vaping. Norris states that, “Vaping is marketed to our youth with devices made to look like a usb drive. The candy flavored cartridges contain as much nicotine as a pack of cigarettes. Through sponsors we are able to provide free nicotine test strips to parents to help deter use.” Norris went on to describe vaping in middle schools as so rampant that a principal opened a drawer full of confiscated devices to illustrate the problem.
CANDLE, Inc. distinguished itself in the national nonprofit arena in 2018. GuideStar just awarded their highest ‘Platinum’status to the agency for transparency. Only 1% of nonprofits attain this designation. The Great Nonprofits organization awarded their ‘2018 Top Rated Nonprofit’ badge to CANDLE, Inc. in recognition of their positive program reviews. This is the agency’s sixth year in a row to receive the Top Rated award.
The nonprofit is gearing up for #GivingTuesday on November 27th. Interns from Clarion and Slippery Rock University are assisting with CANDLE, Inc.’s campaign on social media. Tax deductible donations can be made online at www.RealityTour.org. Registration is also online for all Reality Tour sites.