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Teens to help We The Parents lead local drug education sessions

Drug prevention advocates with the organization say they'll be trying a new approach to drug education, not currently seen in the classroom.
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Opioid overdoses took the lives of eight people in Guelph and Wellington County in 2015, and four in the first half of 2016.

We The Parents is looking to take local drug education into its own hands.

The organization was started by Sean O'Leary, who became an advocate for drug prevention after learning that his daughter had been dealing with an opioid addiction back in 2016.

O'Leary told Ottawa Today with Mark Sutcliffe, he doesn't think the education system does a good enough job telling kids about the risks of drugs use, so his organization is launching its own program.

"Every one of our children are going to be somewhere sometime when they get offered these drugs, and there's not going to be a parent there to coach them on their answer," he said.

O'Leary described that the We The Parents information sessions and discussions will be for Ottawa teens and parents. In them, he hopes to teach young people about drugs, why people do them, what the side effects can be and what the long-term consequences are, so that when they are offered drugs, they are equipped to make good choices.

"We've never, as a society, won this war on drugs," added O'Leary. "They just keep getting worse and worse and they're always there. These children deserve the education to know what they're facing, and not just [getting messages through commercials] where they show an egg and say, 'This is your brain on drugs.'"

What O'Leary hopes will set his organization's information sessions apart from what is being taught in schools is that they will be lead by an adult educator, paired with a teen who is recovering from their addiction.

"A 12 or 13-year-old kid is more likely to listen to what my 17-year-old daughter has to say than what 55-year-old Sean has to say, while standing up in front of them, right? So we're just now working on how to have the two of them together in the room and we'll put [dates of the talks] on our Facebook page and our website when we start them. We're just going to offer small groups -- parents can get organized with other parents and get friends together."

We The Parents plans to start hosting drug education sessions in May.

Listen to the full conversation with We The Parents Executive Director Sean O'Leary:

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