Voice cracking, School District 67 superintendent Wendy Hyer described to the crowd how she was brought in to identify the body of one of her students, after he had stolen drugs and a vehicle, which he then crashed.
The impacts of drug use, not only on the user but the community, was one of the main themes discussed by a panel at the launch of the Ecstacy: Nothing’s Free project at the Shatford Centre on May 30.
“A lot of people are under the misperception that when people are using drugs, the harm is within that person,” said the RCMP’s Terri Kalaski, one of the project’s organizers.
“The harm is all community wide, and that’s one of the things we want people to understand.”
The panel, made up of police, mental health experts and outreach workers along with Hyer, touched on the different areas drugs can impact, from one’s personal performance and relationships to the effect drugs have on a community.
It are these impacts that the Ecstasy: Nothing’s Free project aim to unflinchingly show to youth, in hopes they will truly understand what can come from drug use.
The project comes as a result of a partnership between organizations such as the RCMP, Interior Health, the Ministry of Children and Family Development and the Boys and Girls Club of the Okanagan
“We hope it engages kids and it’s real, and they can see those consequences, and that the situations and how we’re presenting them ring through to them, and they can say I’ve been there,” Kalaski said.
The project has two fronts; the first being a Facebook page where people can get information and facts on drugs like as ecstasy. As well, there is an interactive graphic novel in production by Mind Festival Learning.
Nikos Theodosakis, one of the producers, said the organizers gave them permission to push the boundaries of what they could do — boundaries they said they feel need to be pushed, to truly reach young people.
“Our daughter said ‘if you put anything in there that’s not real, we’ll turn you off.’ When people come in and talk about drugs with (them), and they say something that doesn’t work, that doesn’t feel right to them, they just turn off.” said Linda Theodosakis, Nikos’ wife and fellow producer with Mind Festival.
The resource takes the form of a choose-your-own-adventure style graphic novel, where the player guides a young man named Mike through a party. The players are given a number of different choices, throughout the night, such as to do ecstasy, drink or go home.
There are a number of different streams and endings portraying some of the different consequences of ecstasy use. These endings range from Mike losing his job to, as was shown in the demo, Mike floating face-down in a lake by the party, his ecstasy-ridden heart to never pump again after being convinced by a devious she-devil to take too many pills.
The Facebook page is now live and the graphic-novel resource will shortly be moving into its beta, and should be live before September.