Breaking the cycle of substance abuse in families is the goal of a new program geared toward Baltimore middle and high school students, and it’s the brainchild of a successful R&B singer from Baltimore who dealt with the problem himself.
The Do Right School-Based Initiative is sponsored by singer Mario’s Do Right Foundation. Mario grew up in Baltimore with a drug-addicted mother, and he wants to help students in the same situation he found at home.
“Growing up, he’s had family members that were addicted to drugs, and that’s a pretty well-known fact. So, his focus is to mentor and support children with substance-abusing parents,” said foundation spokesman Kevin Shird.
Twelve students at the Reach Program School in Baltimore have volunteered for the program. Many of them have parents who are substance abusers — or they’ve started using themselves — but they are determined to break the cycle.
“It can help me stop doing drugs and help me focus more and help other people stop doing drugs,” a ninth-grader in the program told 11 News.
“I hope to learn that you’re not alone in this. You can do right and help other people, too,” an eighth-grader said.
During the 16-week course, students will learn how to make decisions about life skills and self-confidence through hands-on activities and group discussions.
“Through this program, they see the other support that is there. There are things out there in this world that they can become, that they can do and that they can work toward to meet their personal goals,” said teacher Rhonda McKinney.
After the course is over, the students will continue to get support from mentors through the Big Brothers Big Sisters program.
“The mentors come in, they meet with the students one-on-one and take them out and get to know them so the children realize and understand that they do not have to become a product of their environment,” McKinney said. “My goal and our desire is to have the students understand that just because their parents may be on drugs, they do not have to follow in their footsteps.”
The program also partners with the University of Maryland to help the parents get treatment for substance abuse.
The Do Right Foundation is hoping the program is successful so it can expand into more Baltimore schools next year.