You don’t have to stop what you haven’t started.
That’s the message a founding member of the drug prevention group ODD Squad Productions Society wants to hit home while in Vernon this week.
Vancouver Police Department Sgt. Mark Steinkampf works on the drug education side of the ODD Squad, sharing the daily devastation of drug addiction he sees on the streets of Vancouver where he works.
“Life is filled with choices, the majority of us make good choices,” said Steinkampf, while riding his horse in the mounted unit. “Unfortunately the people we’ve dealt with the majority of our careers have made one or more poor choices and have ended up addicts.
“We deal with them at the end of the road at places like the downtown Eastside, which every community has their own version of.”
Steinkampf and retired Cst. Al Arsenault will be making a free presentation for parents and community members at Kalamalka Secondary Thursday at 7 p.m. Presentations will also be made at all five secondary schools in the district – Vernon Secondary and Charles Bloom in Lumby today, Clarence Fulton and Kal Thursday and W.L. Seaton on Friday.
“I keep seeing a need. I’m a parent and I would not want my boys or any other child to make these choices,” said Steinkamp, whose kids are 17 and 21.
Whether it’s alcohol, cigarettes, marijuana or any other drugs, those experimenting in their early years of adolescence are doing great damage, according to Steinkampf.
“They’re allowing their young, developing brains to be hijacked by addiction.”
Education, eating right, getting enough sleep, studying hard and staying active are Steinkampf’s prescription for kids.
“We fill their time with all positive aspects of life,” he said of his own children.
The positive recreational approach of judo is also encouraged, which Squad members train in and share in their presentations.
But it also comes down to being a good role model for youth.
“If we’re out there getting pissed and getting high, what do you expect your kids to do?” asks Steinkampf, who says there is nothing wrong with responsible drinking, just not letting it get out of hand. “How can I correct them when I do the same?”
Parents and students are urged to watch some of the 10 public documentaries created by ODD Squad Productions, which depict the life of bad choices. Available at oddsquad.com, videos such as Through a Blue Lens, show the faces of the drug scene on the streets of downtown Eastside in Vancouver.
“We take a reality of where poor choices can lead. Addiction is the end of the road for most of them,” said Steinkampf, adding that there are also a number of videos that are used for internal, police resources.
At first, the addicts didn’t want to be filmed as they thought the police were just going to use the footage to incriminate them.
“As soon as we told them it was for youth they said, ‘get that camera on me.’”
Because in fact, the addict is the expert, and what better place for the stories to come from than them.
“A lot of them are really good people and have just made really bad choices.”
Some have even stopped using drugs.
Now celebrating its 20th anniversary, ODD Squad Productions is also working on a documentary on fentanyl.
But a lot of what they do is free and with limited funding.
“We struggle to get money to keep our offices open,” said Steinkampf, adding that everything they do is separate from the police department.