Pageant Could Benefit Pennsylvania Drug Prevention

BUTLER. PA    Over the years title pageants have changed considerably and Mrs. Pennsylvania International pageant contestants competing this Saturday in Altoona at the Jaffa Shrine Center each have selected a meaningful platform to meet requirements.

The nonprofit CANDLE, Inc. , parent to the Reality Tour Drug Prevention Program , that has educated about 50,000 parents and children in the state, is cheering for Mrs. Monroeville International 2018, Mrs. Kelsley Beckas.

For Mrs. Beckas, a Secondary Autistic  Support Teacher at Greater Latrobe High School, Reality Tour and drug prevention was a natural  platform.  As a Reality Tour Director for the Mt. Pleasant location  for over 5 years, her passion for this innovative program and its impact on families had been ongoing.

In her role, described as Ambassador for Reality Tour, she is  reaching out to schools and communities that don’t have the program yet.  Mrs. Beckas states that, “This research-based program is the only vehicle that educates parents and children together in significant numbers. It provides a profound prevention experience and more communities need to hear about it.”

Norma Norris, Executive Director of CANDLE, Inc. and developer of the program expressed appreciation for the opportunity, “The program has reached approximately 55,000 Pennsylvania residents with a 3-hour intense prevention experience. Our nonprofit is excited that Mrs. Beckas is passionate about increasing those numbers to protect more families.”

There are 19 Reality Tour sites licensed in Pennsylvania. Replications are also in 5 other states and Canada. The consequence-driven experience is designed to help communities ‘take care of their own’ when it comes to drug prevention –  filling the prevention gap by educating families from the general public.  Every community can afford to implement Reality Tour as it involves community volunteers in the delivery.  The  3-hr program’s comprehensive components include:

1) Dramatic scenes illustrating experimentation, addiction and possible consequences

2) Parent/Child coping skills/ current drug trends / home lesson plan to  study the teen brain

3) First person accounts from law enforcement and youth in recovery.

Partnerships with school districts are key and they dedicate a grade level to promote attendance. Schools appreciate that  parent and child receive the same prevention  message. Seneca Valley School District in Butler County has been a partner since 2009.  Superintendent Dr. Tracy Vitale states, “A well-thought-out program, Reality Tour provides an up-close and unfiltered look at the many consequences associated with substance use and abuse. Perhaps the most important component is the opportunity of dialogue that is presented for students and their families for what is clearly a difficult subject to broach.”

Mrs. Pennsylvania contestant Beckas  expresses that her goal is, “ To inspire schools to make Reality Tour mandatory for students and parents before they attend middle school, as I believe this would help  families add a measure of safety to navigate today’s environment.”

If selected as Mrs. Pennsylvania International 2018, Kelsey will compete in the International Pageant this summer. Moving up to this level  would afford the opportunity to promote the Reality Tour concept internationally.

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