NORTH PORT, Fla. - A new documentary will debut in North Port Wednesday night which focuses on teens and drugs. It might not be what you think, though. The film makers are highlighting a program there which is using drug testing to help kids stay clean.
Local author and film creator Leslie Glass is working to expose some of the most serious problems challenging teens: drugs and alcohol. "I took on the issue because I realized what extraordinary issues with teens, substance abuse, and alcohol abuse. Particularly in Florida."
After working on a recent film about recovery, Glass and her daughter turned their attention to places doing it right in a new film called Silent Majority. "We want to empower communities. Show communities there are ways that can help their kids to make better choices as opposed to just warning them against what they shouldn't do, which we know doesn't work."
Glass says they choose North Port because of a program called North Port Drug Free Youth. They're using peer pressure for all the right reasons, says Monica Becket with the organization. "Instead of thinking the kids goofing off are the cool kids, they see themselves now as something special, and they get rewarded for that."
Those who join get rewarded with a discount card to local stores and restaurants. They also join in activities at the new community center.
Since its start in 2010, 1,400 local teens have taken the pledge to stay substance free. It takes more than a their word. "It is mandatory drug testing to join, and then random drug testing throughout the year."
Becket says they've seen the program grow in popularity from year to year, saying there are more winners as it turns out, than those signing up. "It adds to property values. People want to move into nice neighborhoods and know there are good schools where kids are doing the right thing. I think it is a real positive."
No longer remaining the "Silent Majority."
"We are empowering teens to make better choices and then applauding them for making the better choices," says Glass.
The film is premiering Wednesday night at 7pm at North Port High School.