Drug House Odyssey educational for Cape students; Program scheduled for April 1-3
By TAMMY WHALEY, “mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org”>email@example.com
According to the Coalition for a Drug-Free Southwest Florida, teens become more accepting of drug use when they transition from middle school to high school. The coalition states drug use usually increases between seventh and eighth grades, eighth and ninth grades, and ninth and 10th grades.
Through its Drug House Odyssey 2008, the coalition is hoping to educate the youth in Lee County on the real life consequences of teens who use drugs.
“The Drug House Odyssey is a live event. It is like a walk-through play with real scenes depicting what happens in the lives of five teenagers in one night,” said Keral Kronseder-Vogt, executive director for the coalition. “You cannot walk through this and not be affected by what you are seeing.“
Eighth-grade students throughout Lee County will experience the Drug House Odyssey, which is held on the grounds of the Cape Christian Fellowship Church, during the day on April 1-3. The odyssey will be open to the public at night from 6 to 9 p.m. those same days.
“Imagine being at a play and having act 1 and 2 on the stage,” said Kronseder-Vogt. “Well, this is just like that but you are walking through it and going scene to scene.“
Students and families will be walked through the odyssey in groups of 30 every 10 minutes. The walk is narrated by a guide. With the exception of the five students who play the teenagers, who are from the drama clubs at Mariner High School and Evangelical Christian School, all of the “actors” are real policemen, firemen, EMS, judges and coroners.
“The reason we use real people is because this is who they are and what they see in real life,” said Kronseder-Vogt. “They know and see what happens to kids who use drugs and alcohol.“
Kronseder-Vogt said the odyssey is such an important event for children and families to attend because it cuts through the denial that this will never happen to them.
“It also opens the lines of communication between parents and their kids,” she said. “The impact of seeing this is very real.“
The odyssey tour’s first scene takes the viewer to the home of a girl who is baby-sitting. She hears a knock at the door and opens it to find her two girlfriends who want to come in and hang out. After a while, a second knock on the door happens and she opens to find two boys from school standing there, who also want to come in and hang out. Once in, the boys then offer the girls drugs and alcohol. The two girls who came over accept as they want to be popular. The girl who is baby-sitting does not accept and, in fact, tries to discourage the others from doing so.
Viewers are then taken through various scenes illustrating what happens to the five teens later on in the night.
“They will see the two boys were involved in a traffic stop and were arrested on felony possession charges with cocaine and marijuana and driving under the influence. Then onto their court scene where they both get convicted,” said Kronseder-Vogt. “One boy wants to be a teacher and the other a doctor and they both realize this will never happen now with a felony drug conviction.“
The last scenes show how the evening ends up for the two girls who came over to visit the baby-sitting girl in the beginning scene.
“They were involved in a traffic accident and EMS tries to save the life of one of them and she ends up being taken away on a gurney to the hospital,” said Kronseder-Vogt. “The other girl is arrested and brought to jail and charged with vehicular manslaughter as her friend died upon arriving at the hospital.“
The walk-through ends with the police chaplain who informs the walkers that they have just concluded their odyssey tour. As for the girl who was baby-sitting, Kronseder-Vogt explained that due to her self-control and the making of the right choices in life, she turned out just fine.
Kronseder-Vogt said visitors to the odyssey should stick around after the tour for exhibits on drug and alcohol awareness that will be set up outside.
“We have some great exhibits outside,” said Kronseder-Vogt. “We will have the roll-over car, the mobile crime unit, Coast Guard Interdiction boat and exhibits from The American Heart and the American Lung Association.“
Other special exhibits expected to be involved include the police equestrian team, the drug police dogs and a police helicopter.
“This event is going to change lives and change them for the better,” said Kronseder-Vogt. “If parents have one event they take their child to this year, I hope it is this one. This will raise everyone’s awareness. It will truly be a life changing experience.”
Admission is free. Due the graphic nature of the scenes, parents are encouraged to bring children over 12. For more information, visit the Coalition for a Drug Free Southwest Florida at: www.drugfreeswfl.org.