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Drug House Odyssey returns to Civic Center

The public is invited to watch the annual anti-underage drinking play on Family Night, set for Feb. 6

January 30, 2019
By CHUCK BALLARO ( , North Fort Myers Neighbor

Law enforcement and emergency personnel throughout Lee County, as well as those from the District Attorney's Office and high school students, will be teaching Lee County fifth-graders the importance of making good choices, and the tragic consequences that could happen by making the wrong ones.

The annual Drug House Odyssey, sponsored by the United Way of Lee Hendry, Glades and Okeechobee Counties, will return to the Lee Civic Center from Feb. 5 to 7, where fifth-graders will be bused in to witness a play in which teenagers make the wrong decisions and the result of those actions.

Deborah Comella, executive director for the Lee County Coalition for a Drug-Free Southwest Florida, said the event has been going on for 25 years, which is quite an accomplishment.

"We want to encourage a discussion in the classroom and at the dinner table about making good decisions and they have to do with underage drinking," Comella said. "We want to also encourage a wider ranging discussion on what happens if someone asks you to get in the car when they've been drinking. We want a community dialogue."

Among the nearly 35 agencies that will participate are the Cape Coral Police Department, the Lee County Sheriff's Office, Florida Highway Patrol, North Fort Myers and Bayshore Fire Departments, Lee County EMS, the District Attorney's Office and students from Mariner, Fort Myers and Evangelical Christian high schools, who will be the actors in this five-scene, walk-through odyssey.

The play has changed over the years, with new elements added to old scenes and new scenes added, including one where one of the main characters dies.

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The Florida Highway Patrol annually brings its rollover car and life-sized dummies to teach the importance of wearing a seat belt.

There also will be a family night next Wednesday from 5 to 7 p.m. that will be open to the public.

Families, church groups, youth groups, scouting troops and concerned citizens are encouraged to attend.

At that event, Tre Boston, defensive back for the Arizona Cardinals who starred in high school at North Fort Myers, is expected to attend and discuss the importance of making the right choices with the students.

Comella said these fifth-graders are exactly who they are targeting, as kids become more drug aware at around 10 or 11 years old.

"Science had shown that this is the kind of learning that's most successful and that the age of onset for some children is as early as 10 years old," Comella said. "When law enforcement couldn't do its DARE program, this would be a good way to engage fifth-graders."

The Lee County Civic Center is at 11831 Bayshore Road, North Fort Myers.



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