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‘Drug House Odyssey’ highlights consequences of poor decisions

By Staff | Mar 24, 2011

Students were guided through six scenes Wednesday morning at Cape Christian Fellowship regarding what good and bad decisions could do to a teenager’s life when drugs and alcohol are thrown into the mix of things.
Lee County Coalition for a Drug Free Southwest Florida Executive Director Deborah Comella said they have held Drug House Odyssey for six years at Cape Christian Fellowship as a prevention event for fifth grade students to learn about good vs. bad decisions about drinking and driving.
The six scenes will take 1,900 fifth grade students on a journey of four teenagers’ lives following decisions to drink, use prescription drugs and drive. The event was open to Lee County students Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and open to the public Wednesday night.
The event had more than 300 volunteers from various participating organizations. Organizations participating included the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, Cape Coral and Fort Myers Police Departments, Cape Coral and Fort Myers Fire Departments, Office of the State Attorney Judicial Circuit, Lee Memorial Health System and Lee County Emergency Medical Services.
“Every major public service is here,” Comella said. “It is unbelievable the amount of community support we get.”
She said she is amazed by the number of those who are passionate about the health of children in Lee County.
The idea behind Drug House Odyssey is to make the message of not drinking and driving a part of a larger discussion between parents and children, and teachers and children.
“It just isn’t a one-time thing,” Comella said.
In the scenario portrayed, a deadly situation unfolds after “Sara,” who is home alone because her parents went out shopping, finds herself in a party situation when her best friend “Molly” brings friends and alcohol to the house. Various circumstances follow after the friends leave the party. “Travis” and “Billy” are pulled over by the police, who find alcohol and prescription drugs in the car. Both of them are escorted away in handcuffs and brought to jail, so they can be processed for a court date.
After witnessing the “arrest,” fifth grade students from The Sanibel School then sat in on a “court hearing” presided by the judge, Assistant State Attorney Geraldo Olivo, who read Travis’ and Billy’s sentences.
After the students left the courtroom, they were led to an accident scene where “Molly” was arrested for drinking and driving and “Ashley” was taken from the scene on a stretcher because she was not breathing.
A hospital scene followed with such phrases that included multiple fractures, internal bleeding, blood transfusion and her heart not beating, being thrown out by doctors and nurses who were working on trying to revive Ashley. The scene also included a hysterical mother who found out that her daughter died.
The last scene of the 45-minute play ended with a message from Bob Hennagin, chaplin for St. Hilary’s Church and the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, who told the students from The Sanibel School that life is full of choices and consequences.
“Each choice has an impact on others,” he said.
As a chaplin for the Sheriff’s Office, Hennagin told the students that he is called when teenagers are killed, and also talks to the victims who are alive. So far, eight teenagers have been killed, four of whom were killed in the same crash.
“The last thing I want to do is reach down and pull that blue blanket back and see your faces,” he told the students.
He ended his speech by telling the students that “we hope you will make good choices in your life … and all your dreams will come true.”
“Please make good choices,” Hennagin said.
Fifth grade student Jake Ramsey from The Sanibel School said the play was “cool” and he thought it got more realistic as it went on.
The message that he took away from Drug House Odyssey is that “drugs are scary.” Ramsey said he will get out of the house, call his parents or call the police if he finds himself in the same situation that was performed during the play.
The Sanibel School fifth grade teacher Mary Beth Clauss thought the event was great.
“I think it was amazing,” she said about her first time attending Drug House Odyssey.
Once a week, the fifth grade students attend a DARE class with the school resource officer to discuss choices that they have in various scenarios.
Once they arrive back at their school, Clauss said they will have a real conversation so everything that they saw during the performance would sink in.
She said fifth graders are a great age for the event because they are impressionable.
“They are like sponges,” Clauss said.
Fort Myers ALC school resource officer Martin Davila has participated in Drug House Odyssey for the past three years. He said the event makes a good impression on the students.
“I think it is worth while,” he said.
Drug House Odyssey, Davila said, addresses peer pressure and consequences. He said the play shows the students what peer pressure can do, along with pinpointing what consequences occur when bad and good choices are made.
Comella said she puts a few more children through every year because it is about making a difference in at least one child’s life.
Comella said they chose fifth grade students because it is a good time to give them the prevention message.