BROCKWAY — The developer of the Reality Tour program gave kudos to Brockway for the Reality Tour it has developed for the community.
“They do an excellent job,” said Norma Norris, executive director of CANDLE, Inc. (Community Action Network for Drug-Free Lifestyle Empowerment), based in Butler, the non-profit organization which oversees the Reality Tour program.
Continuing her comments, she said, “it’s a replicated program (based on a national model), and their fidelity to the replication was impressive.”
She thought the Brockway Reality tour was well-organized and presented.
“The setting is really unique where they have each of the scenes at,” she added.
She said Brockway’s team of co-presenters make it more interesting. She was also impressed that the district attorney was involved with Brockway’s Reality Tour, noting that Brockway’s Reality Tour is the only one in Pennsylvania to have this feature. Currently, there are 17 Reality Tours in Pennsylvania. There are also Reality Tours underway or being organized in California, Arizona, Delaware, Michigan and New York, as well as in Canada. Reality Tour originated in Butler in 2003.
She said the Brockway Kaimanns Club and the school district do an excellent job in putting on the Reality Tour. And she was impressed that each and every year since 2014, the sixth grade in Brockway has received drug abuse prevention information, geared toward students and their families, through the program. She hopes this will combat drug use by reducing demand.
John H. Esposito, a member of the board of directors of the Brockway Kaimanns Club, provided the following history of the Reality Tour program in Brockway:
“Fran Morelli Jr., a member of the Kaimanns, researched the Reality Tour organization and was impressed with what he learned and approached the Kaimanns board with his findings and suggested that we become involved with the group. The board agreed and a committee was formed to go forward with the plan.”
“The Kaimanns board approved a fee of $3,500 required in order to participate in the program. This agreement also requires a fee of $500 per year for continued participation, which is paid by the Kaimanns Club.”
“The Kaimanns committee then proceeded to make all of the necessary arrangements to put on the program for school children and their parents. Together with arranging for numerous professional members of the community that are required for the program, they also received permission to perform at the local school facility.”
Speaking about the origins of the program in Brockway, Morelli said he became concerned in 2013, when there had been some drug deaths in the community. He added that they were young adults from good families.
“I did have a sudden fear a few years down the road my kids were going to be exposed to this,” he said. “I didn’t have the answers to teach my own kids, and I think that’s what inspired me to come forward to my group (the Kaimanns).”
Morelli heard about the Reality Tour from Jefferson County District Attorney Jeff Burkett. Morelli recalled that he did some research, saw a Reality Tour presentation, which impressed him, and then approached the Kaimanns about starting one in Brockway.
He was impressed by how local people from the community are involved in the Reality Tour, playing roles in the dramatic scenes matching their careers. And he was proud of how, in a few years, students in all grades at the high school will have gone through the program when they were sixth graders.
He noted that the involvement from the school district is crucial, especially the support of Superintendent Dan Hawkins, superintendent’s secretary Stephanie Benson, the janitors who help set up the dramatic scenes, sixth grade teachers and program co-directors Bert Ginther and Chuck Sabatose, elementary teacher Josh Inzana, teacher Tracey Dusch, and numerous drama students. He noted that there is also key support from Brockway Police Chief Terry Young, local family physician Dr. James Devlin, Paul Verne of Brockway Area Ambulance and his assistants, Eric Shugarts from Carlson-Shugarts Funeral Home, Ron Matson from Brockway Drug, Brockway Kaimann and local attorney Ross Ferraro and Jefferson County District Attorney Jeff Burkett.
The Frank Varischetti Foundation makes a monetary contribution so people can attend the Reality Tour for free.