In the era where kids’ attention spans don’t last much longer than it takes to scroll through Facebook posts, Milton “Bigg Milt” Creagh continues to captivate students for hours, leaving them with an important message about the dangers of drug and alcohol use and abuse.
Through the Elks Drug Awareness Program, each year Creagh, an internationally renowned motivational speaker for teens, travels the country to speak to students and parents about drugs and alcohol.
Thanks to the Missouri State Elks Association and Frank Scarpino, its Drug Awareness Chair, Creagh recently returned to Missouri for the fourth time to give 12 presentations at local schools.
From the first words he spoke with his booming voice, Creagh’s audiences were hooked. His presentations begin with personal, often funny stories about his life growing up in a tough Chicago neighborhood. The mood quickly turns somber as he brings up tough issues like alcohol, drugs and violent crimes.
Throughout his presentations, he connects with the students by asking them to share their own experiences. Students raise their hands if they or someone they know has used drugs or alcohol, has been involved in a crime, or has been incarcerated. He explains that the number one cause of death for boys between the ages of 12 and 18 is drug- or alcohol-related accidents. The number two cause is murder, which often involves drugs or alcohol.
“This is not a game,” Creagh emphasizes. “This is real life.”
After his presentations, dozens of students wait to speak with Creagh privately.
“Students just line up wanting to tell their stories,” Scarpino explains. “Creagh never leaves until they’ve all had their chance to speak.”
Long after the presentation ends, students are able to stay in contact with Creagh and the Elks Drug Awareness Program through email, Facebook and Twitter. The lessons they learn from Creagh’s presentations truly change the course of many of their lives.
“Our students and teachers haven’t stopped talking about how ‘Bigg Milt’ touched their lives,” says Corey Willich, the Principal of Bingham Middle School in Missouri. “Without the Elks, none of this would have been possible.”
In 2011-12, the Elks National Foundation allocated $715,350 to fund the Elks National Drug Awareness Program. For more information on the Drug Awareness Program, visit www.elks.org/dap.
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