Anti-drug group asks Allegheny Valley School Board for support | TribLIVE.com
Valley News Dispatch

Anti-drug group asks Allegheny Valley School Board for support

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An organization aiming to bring a dose of reality about drug abuse to young people has asked for the Allegheny Valley School Board’s support.

Members of the Allegheny Valley HOPE (Helping Our Peers Everyday) Association outlined a program called the Reality Tour to the board on Monday.

HOPE President John Murray, of Springdale, said it’s a grassroots program aimed at educating parents and children about the dangers of drug abuse and how to confront and combat it.

“The Reality Tour is something you cannot attend without your parents,” Murray said.

The program was created by Candle Inc., a nonprofit group in Butler, and involves two components.

Dramatic scenes that chronicle a person’s journey into and through drug addiction are the first part. They’re designed to give participants a true perspective of the physical and emotional consequences of addiction.

The second component features interactive methods, including question-and-answer sessions with a recovering drug addict and police.

Melissa Spirk-Gilbert, a parent and a HOPE member from Springdale, said a recent national survey of middle school students revealed that a third of them knew someone in their school who either is using drugs or selling them. She said the survey indicated that 50% of the participants thought it was OK to try crack cocaine once or twice and 40% felt the same way about heroin.

The HOPE members said the district can help facilitate participation. They said other districts have provided incentives to students such as giving extra credit in health class to those who attend the Reality Tour.

Murray invited the board members to attend a Reality Tour presentation the evening of May 4 at Springdale Presbyterian Church.

The board applauded the HOPE members. Superintendent Patrick Graczyk asked them to provide details on the upcoming Reality Tour program so information can be posted on the district’s website and printed on fliers to be sent home with students.

Virginia Hartz of Springdale, HOPE’s secretary, said the volunteer nonprofit group started in 2014 and has picked up momentum.

“We’re going to go to every school district around here and do the same thing we did tonight,” Hartz said.

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