Even nice kids can have their lives ruined by drugs. But how do you prevent that? One man who has made an impact is actor and former drug addict Scot Anthony Robinson, whose shoestring effort is called Vision Warrior. He makes his case at rich kids’ schools and in the ghetto. He’s been featured by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America and the New York Knicks. You should consider getting him to spend a day at your kid’s school.
Hello Scott, reads one of the dozens of e-mails he got after a typical day’s performance recently. (I haven’t copy-edited it, lest you think the typical American high schooler has any idea how to punctuate a sentence.) My name is Bobby, I attended your assembly at Walter Panas High School. I shouldn’t call it assembly, those are boring, your performance was amazing. I’m 17 years old and I’m currently a junior. I’d like to say that i give you all the credit in the world for being able to pull out of such a horrible addiction. You deserve a lot of credit. I would also like to say when I heard we were having an assembly on drugs I said to myself ‘Great another one of these’. Most drug talks are useless to kids and I’m sure you’re aware of that. Your performance touched me, deep inside. I’ll be honest, I smoke weed once in a while, probably once a week or so. I also drink once about once a month. I should say used to, after watching you give your heart to us to make us understand, I feel I owe it to you and to myself, my friends, family, and all loved ones to stop that garbage. I plan on staying straight, I’m very into sports and after realizing how weed can get me into other things no matter how strong I think I am menatally, I decided that stopping it all right now is the only way to get the best out of my life. My vision: to get through the rest of life drug free, graduate college and become a teacher. Along with that I would like to start my own family and keep a strong friend base. I plan on being the warrior that you taught us about and I am going to fight for my vision. My ship will stay strong, unsinkable. Thank you for teaching me what many others could not. Sincerely, your friend Bobby
His name actually isn’t Bobby. Just to be safe, I changed it, lest someone who knows him see this and put two and two together.
Here’s what Scot got from the young man who organized his visit:
Thank you, thank you, thank you. Today was a very strange day. People that I haven’t talked to in years.. teachers that have disliked me.. came up to me and thanked me.. Kids told me that they really got a lot out of it. A bunch of teachers got together and went to the principal and told her how we should have you back next year for the younger kids.. (I was also able to get the superintendent to watch some of the presentation)
I know that this happens wherever you go– But I just wanted to thank you for trusting me since the day we met. Acting is still what I’m passionate about But I often hope that I’ll find a way to help people as much as you do. You’re my light-house, bro
‘Hey Scott,’ writes a third . . .
I am from Walter Panas High School and I just want to really thank you for changing my life today. You made me think of life in a whole new prospective. Thanks for caring about use because I know from talking to a lot of my peers that you caring for use that much changed their lives as well as mine. I was not goin to go to the assembly but I am sure happy I went because I would have never gottin the plessure of meeting you and knowing your story. I was going to tell you after but you were surrounded by kids. I just wanted to thank you again for changing my life. God Bless.
I e-mailed Scot for his own report. He wrote:
It was fantastic. The audience was very engaged and the spirit in the auditorium was inspiring. I spoke to a few classes afterwards and those sessions were very valuable to help them process some of their feelings & challenges. I got 59 emails that night and they continue to trickle in.
They wound up paying me $900 with another $300 on its way. Jeremy did some extra soliciting as he said he felt bad…..I told him not to worry about it but he insisted…..He is truly representative of the very best of what his generation has to offer…he will be and already is a model citizen, I am proud to know him!
Anyway, some other things on the horizon, I will film the second part of the Science Times Documentary for National Geographic today at 4pm…..they will ask me questions about addiction and add that to snippets from what they filmed from Vision Warrior at Friends Academy last month. Things are flowing and a lot of potentially exciting stuff is coming up.
So how does this all work? Well, it’s certainly not the solution to the drug problem, because Scot is just one guy, and not easily replicated. But if he could present to 150 schools a year, that might touch 100,000 kids. And in the course of a four-year high school cycle, 400,000. To maximize his effectiveness, he might one day be able to hire a staffer to handle logistics and help with the e-mail, referring kids with special problems and requests to the right resources.
In the meantime, people go to his website and send him e-mail. Those who can, pay him $2,500 plus expenses (or contribute it tax-deductibly through a 501c-3 he’s affiliated with). Those who can’t, pay less. Those who really can’t, pay nothing. This is, of course, no way to run a railroad, but Scot is not running a railroad.
He does most of his presentations in and around New York and Los Angeles, but with enough planning could make efficient visits elsewhere – e.g., a week in Cleveland to visit four different schools.
Everyone has his or her own views on drugs. Personally, I don’t think tobacco or alcohol – or marijuana – should be illegal. Prohibition doesn’t work, and in a free country, adults should be allowed to pick their poison. But I don’t think we should promote their use, especially not tobacco, a highly addictive carcinogen that, when used exactly as intended (i.e., not abused, as alcohol often is) causes widespread illness and premature death. I’m glad NBC dropped plans to run liquor commercials. I sure wish Rolling Stone would stop running tobacco ads.
If marijuana ever were legalized, I would favor making it OK for adults to grow and give to friends, but not to sell or store in large quantity – let alone advertise with cartoon characters on billboards. Giving or selling it to minors would carry significant fines, as would ‘giving’ it as part of any commercial promotion or transaction (‘free with every mocha latte!’ ‘free with every pack of Marlboros!’ ‘free with every manicure!’). The one exception would be nonprofit cooperatives formed for the purpose of supplying medical marijuana to patients unable to grow it or get it from friends.
As I say, everyone has his own views. You – and Scot, for that matter – may not agree with mine. What most of us would agree on, though, is that high school kids shouldn’t smoke, drink or – worst of all – do drugs. Vision Warrior seems to be effective in getting kids to agree.
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