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Norwin Chamber helps build anti-drug awareness

| Thursday, March 7, 2013, 3:41 a.m.

Norwin Chamber of Commerce is helping build awareness of an anti-drug program in the area.

Gina Davis, director of Norwin Reality Tour, spoke at Wednesday's chamber luncheon.

“You would be shocked to know the kids who are using drugs,” Davis said. “They are good kids from good families. Business owners in our community, their children. People are afraid to say anything because they're embarrassed. Obviously it has a stigma. As a community, we need to let these people know that they can reach out. They can get help, and that they don't have to be embarrassed. This is a serious dilemma, and we really need to take action.”

The Reality Tour is an anti-drug and anti-alcohol program that features real stories and scenarios from people affected by drugs and alcohol.

Davis referenced Westmoreland County coroner statistics. A report stated 28 people died of heroin overdoses in the county from Jan. 1 through Wednesday morning, and more than 100 people died of overdoses last year.

She talked about other reports showing 48 percent of students will have tried an illicit drug by the end of eighth grade.

“Peer pressure is a huge thing, and our kids are falling prey to it,” Davis said.

The tour first came to Westmoreland County in 2007. About 300 people went to eight sessions at the Westmoreland County Courthouse.

Davis said she's been working for more than a year to establish a Norwin tour, and was able to have one through the Norwin Lions Club and Candle Inc., a Butler-based nonprofit organization.

Norwin Reality Tour meets the second Tuesday of every month at 6 p.m. at JB's Bright Beginnings at 780 Brush Hill Rd. in North Huntingdon Township.

The program is open to youths ages 10-18, and attendees must bring their parents.

“The main goal, other than prevention, is to open communication and open the parents' eyes to the problem in our community,” Davis said. “It is a very real problem as you can see ... This is really an eye opener. The kids see things that they really need to be with their parent to go through. They go through a walk in the life of a heroin addict.”

Part of the program includes showing a video of what can happen to a drug user, including an overdose and interaction with law enforcement.

“The North Huntingdon (Township) police have been just awesome,” Davis said. “They have stepped up and really help us out. They arrest a girl for us. They throw her into a jail ... We have an emergency room scene where a teen dies on a table, and we have a funeral scene ... Is it a scare tactic? Kinda, but the statistics we're looking at, these kids need to know how dangerous this is.”

“She gave me goose bumps,” chamber president Rosanne Novotnak said.

Novotnak said the chamber included the Norwin Reality Tour in its newsletter, and will be talking about the program at future chamber events.

Contact Gina Davis for more information at 724-493-5553 or email ginadavis.rt@gmail.com.

Michael DiVittorio is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1965 or mdivittorio@tribweb.com.

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