Testing Waters of New Normal in Prevention

Doesn’t it feel as if some unseen force pressed play on Netflix so we are now collectively binge-watching an endless season of “Life Now”’? Red, green and yellow are the primary hues that manage our mobility, The red ‘stop’ or lockdown phase stopped everything but the periods of distress caused by knowing that normal couldn’t be found. Yellow is advancing along with the summer sun and life appears to be inching toward a derivative of normal. Yet, it is subtly settling in that we are not going back to where we were before.


Change has been the driving force of the drug prevention nonprofit CANDLE, Inc. Change in the health and habits of the younger population. Change in the ability to make good decisions and be on the same page with their parents. For 16 years we have been an organization whose mission depended on adapting and adjusting to the current climate. Our parent/child Reality Tour, a prevention experience, recently changed to take a deeper dive into education on the danger of teen vaping and delve into the workings of the teen brain. Our concentration on protective factors balance the trepidation of with actions they can take as a family that enrich their life and create a foundation for prevention.


Surveys Point the Way
The current public health climate has kept our organization occupied developing best practices for group settings. We are in the process of producing a video of our consequence-driven dramatic scenes to offer an option that avoids close quarters. Capacity is a consideration with changes to limit seating.


Our method of prevention education uniquely engages and trains the community for volunteer roles in the presentation. It takes two directors and about a dozen volunteers for each program. Volunteers and attendees have been polled and verified they are willing to accept precautions dictated by regional health advisories in order to continue presentations of Reality Tour. However, whether parent and child are wearing a mask while learning how to prevent substance abuse likely won’t be any barrier in a program that parents rate as priceless.


In surveys of tour directors and volunteers, we also asked the reason why they volunteer their time. As part of my intern duties, I get to compile the survey results and they are inspiring.
Our volunteers gave a number of reasons why they are so committed. Here are three comments that portray their dedication.

● “ We make parents aware what is out there and provide a way to help them open up a conversation with their kids.”

● “It is incredibly beneficial to know that the information I help to share directly impacts the students in my school.”

“Hearing a woman tell me her story of how Reality Tour helped her nephew turn his life around is what keeps me committed to helping with this program.”


Megan Palmer, Director of Reality Tour in Livingston, Michigan capsulized the concern or our tour directors and the organizations they represent in this quote:

“We are concerned about the increase in alcohol sales that we have seen across the state and are concerned about what impact this behavior modeling will have on youth.


Nielsen reports that online alcohol sales alone increased 243% by the end of March as reported by the Associated Press. In the close quarters of quarantine, too many youth have observed parents, guardians and other family members using alcohol as a coping measure for stress. No one wants to see an increase in youth alcohol abuse as normal.


It is a season never witnessed before. We are dipping our toe into a ‘new normal’ and the
challenge is to promote positive change. In prevention that means exploring, modeling and communicating new coping skills for our youth. To learn more skills sign up to receive our newsletter. The current edition offers an updated ‘Catching Happiness’ exercise for youth along with our checklist of healthy habits.


Get Ready for a Splash…
If you are really brave and want to dip a toe into new waters, visit www.RealityTour.org. Contact us to inquire about getting Reality Tour started where you live. Click on Locations to see Reality Tour sites in nine states.


Collaborative Blog Author: Emma Burgman, Slippery Rock University

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