BROCKWAY — Accompanied by her mother, Lauren Rendos was among the sixth graders taking part in the Reality Tour parent/child drug prevention program last week at Brockway High School.
Like the other children, Lauren traced her handprint and signed her name on a Reality Tour “I Promise” banner, which affirms the children’s pledge not to do drugs.
The banner now hangs in the cafeteria at the elementary school, and plans call for it to be displayed in a couple businesses around town.
“It’s a great program,” said Lauren’s mother, Erica, who added that her two older children had taken part in previous Reality Tour presentations in Brockway.
“It just gives kids a lot of information they can take with them,” she commented. “It scares them to see what drugs can do to themselves and family and others.”
“I thought it was good,” Lauren, 12, said. “They tell us, so in the future we won’t do it (use drugs).”
In addition to hearing from speakers, the students and their parents were taken through three stark scenes showing the perilous journey of a drug user. People from the community played the various roles in each scene.
The first scene showed the drug user in jail while the second scene showed medical personnel trying to save him in the emergency room, to no avail. In the final scene, his grieving mother and family stood by his casket in a funeral home setting.
In the last scene, however, only a mirror was in the casket. The mirror had the message: “Don’t let this happen to you.”
It was made all the more real as the students and their parents walked past the coffin, and “consoled” the grieving mother.
Program co-directors and elementary teachers Bert Ginther and Chuck Sabatose also spoke to the children and their parents in the auditorium.
With all the information presented about drugs and drug use during the program, Ginther posed a question to the audience.
“We heard all the bad news, so what do we do about it?” he asked. “We know we have a drug problem in our community. How do we make sure our kids don’t go down that path?”
He urged parents to “monitor and discuss.”
While he thought monitoring children was easy, he said the tough part was the discussion.
He offered some suggestions to get the ball rolling, such as parents sitting down with their children for the simplest of meals and talking.
“We’re not talking (to) take two hours out of your day, because we know, in our lives right now, to find two hours just to sit at a table almost seems impossible, but we can find five minutes when they’re eating their Pop-Tart in the morning before the bus comes to sit and talk about what happened,” he said. “We can find time maybe to just have five minutes when they have their snack, when they come home...
“That five minutes they’re stuffing it into their mouth, you sit and talk to them.”
He also suggested turning off the radio and putting away technology to find time to talk while traveling in the car.
Parents were also warned about “parent pitfalls,” such as failing to monitor school night socializing, failing to safeguard prescription drugs, failing to accept that drugs are in schools and failing to set a good example.
Brockway Police Chief Terry Young spoke to the audience about communication.
It noted that Brockway police have a link on the high school website, and when opened, it shows a police department tip form.
People can use it to inform the police about a crime they have witnessed, including drug activity.
He also noted that investigations take time.
“So, you’ve got to be patient,” he said.
Jefferson County District Attorney Jeff Burkett was another one of the speakers.
“This is a path that I don’t want any of you to ever go down,” he told the children.
He told them that it’s unglamorous, ugly and filled with pain and darkness.