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Drug House Odyssey finally draws to close

By Staff | Mar 26, 2009

The Drug House Odyssey ends today after illustrating to thousands of Lee County students the devastating consequences of drugs and alcohol.
The odyssey is a three-day interactive walk-through drama where students watch adolescents as they attend a party, experience a court hearing and get into a fatal car accident.
Michelina Edwards and John Beebe, fifth-grade teachers at Patriot Elementary, toured the grounds with 53 students. This was the school’s first year attending the odyssey.
“They really did enjoy it,” said Edwards. “It had a powerful impact, and the students took it very seriously.”
She commended the Lee County Coalition for a Drug-Free Southwest Florida for organizing the event.
Students toured the odyssey each day from 9 a.m.-1 p.m., and the program was open to the public Wednesday from 6-9 p.m.
Over the past couple of years, the odyssey has focused on eighth-graders throughout the county. Keral Kronseder-Vogt, executive director of the coalition, said it is mainly hosting fifth-graders this year in hopes that earlier exposure to these issues will stem any increase in drug abuse among children.
Deborah Comella, director of public awareness, pointed out that hundreds of local doctors, police officers and EMTs volunteer for the odyssey. Participating agencies included Cape Coral police, Fort Myers police, Lee Memorial Health System and Lee County Emergency Medical Services.
“The county really gives it up for the Drug House Odyssey,” she said.
In the beginning, students are introduced to a party scene featuring real teens from the school district. As the tour progresses, they see other teens injured after a gruesome car wreck and watch as police officers and EMTs pull them to safety.
Dylan Trenhaile, Alexia Perez, Martha Valencia and Nicole Mangia volunteered as actors in the odyssey. Each are enrolled in South Fort Myers High School’s medical academy and will likely deal with these issues once they graduate.
The teens said that most of the fifth-graders were shocked by the display, while some eighth-graders were less upset by the tour.
“Some were surprised and some thought it was hilarious,” said Valencia. “Some were crying.”
Perez wore dramatic makeup to look bloodied. She said the makeup took 10 minutes to apply in the morning.
“I was the driver and crashed into a tree because I was drinking and driving,” said Perez.
For more information on the Lee County Coalition for a Drug-Free Southwest Florida, visit: www.drugfreeswfl.org.