Motivational speaker Joe White will bring his personal message of the dangers of underage drinking to students and adults in Marion County in events today co-sponsored by Families And Communities Together and Marion-Florence USD 408.
“He is a kid who has a long-term injury due to horseplay when he was inebriated. He was injured and has a permanent disability because of it,” FACT Executive Director Linda Ogden said.
“Choices and Consequences: Kids & Alcohol in Marion County” will feature White talking to middle school and high school students from Marion, Centre, and Hillsboro at USD 408 Performing Arts Center in the afternoon.
A community forum in the Marion Middle-High School cafeteria in the evening will include White and a panel of local experts.
“We’re framing it as a community conversation about the issue,” Ogden said.
White was a senior at Washburn Rural High School in Topeka in 2006 when a night of drinking with friends went horribly wrong.
With his judgment impaired by alcohol and egged on by friends, White jumped from a car traveling 35 mph, sustaining a serious brain injury.
Ogden chose White to be the speaker to put a real face on the dangers of underage drinking, which she says student surveys show is an ongoing challenge in Marion County.
Ogden said USD 408 got involved because of information she presented to the Board of Education this past fall about rates of drinking among district students.
“It seemed like this would be a nice follow-up, and they agreed to co-host,” Ogden said. “It’s a health and safety issue for teen-agers, and a legal issue because it’s against the law.”
The community forum featuring White starts with a free pizza supper at 6 p.m. White will speak at 6:30, followed by the panel discussion. The first 20 families to arrive at the event will receive $10 gift cards from Ampride.