Sheriff’s anti-drug message continues

BY OLIVIA RICHMAN

NEWS STAFF WRITER, SPENCER NEW LEADER

 

Worcester County Sheriff Lew Evangelidis brought his Face2Face program to Bay Path Regional Technical Vocational High School on April 8, in an attempt to prevent students from abusing drugs and alcohol. “For me, there’s a lot of students out there who are going through that thought process of whether drugs or alcohol will become part of their lives,” said Evangelidis. “We live in a world where people don’t know the truth until it’s too late. I try to bring the stories that I learned by being sheriff, dealing with inmates and people in recovery. I hear on a daily basis that people say that they wish they knew then what they know now. They wish someone had talked to them and told the truth about these drugs. They only heard myths.” Bay Path’s Students Against Drunk Driving (SADD) Advisor Dina LePage brought Face2Face to Bay Path after taking a survey at the beginning of the year, asking students what they believed would be a topic that would benefit the school. “This program came to our school a few years ago,” said LePage. “The juniors and seniors remembered the program and it made a powerful impact on them. The sheriff comes in and shows the students what could happen to their bodies and appearance when they are using drugs. That has a huge impact on these kids, many of whom don’t understand the physical effects drugs have on their bodies.” The Face2Face program uses a new facial recognition technology that shows students what their faces will look like after meth use, opiates and other hard drugs. When students see their faces after meth use, it usually affects them, said Worcester County Sheriff’s Office Community Outreach Coordinator Shawn McKenna. “This program is very important because kids are growing up a lot faster now, with the Internet, cell phones, TV … you are seeing these topics introduced at an earlier age,” continued McKenna. “It’s important to us, as a correctional institution, to get to them before they reach that path. They can identify the warning signs and hopefully not get to that point. It benefits everyone, the kids and the community.” For educators, the program is often welcome because of the reality Face2Face brings to the students. Face2Face shows the effects of drugs on the face and body, but also what it can do to a user’s life. “Kids say they know. They think they know about drugs,” said LaPage. “They think it may be recreational at a party, make them feel good. They don’t often consider the consequences. They need to understand the long-term effects and what could transpire. You could end up in jail or killing yourself. They’re living within the moment. They need to realize what the consequences may be. I’m hoping that we can get a few kids to stop and think. We aren’t going to change everybody, but if we can reach a few people and make them realize it’s not a healthy lifestyle it’s worth bringing the program in.” For Evangelidis, he is hoping the program “pushes different buttons.” Since all different types of people are affected by drug use and alcohol abuse, Evangelidis wants to make sure all students are affected by the program. “When you hear the same story over and over as sheriff, that people’s lives have been derailed by choices in middle and high school … it always includes drugs and alcohol,” he said. “I want to change that. I have two teenage daughters and I saw firsthand the potential for this drug epidemic we are in. I felt compelled to do whatever I could. I feel I have a good platform to do it.”