Fighting a Drug War with Bike, Bookles, Running Shoes & Rallies
Runners went from town-to-town carrying the anti-drug message across the length and breadth of the Czech Republic.
Fed up with the headlines about drug addiction and the crime that goes with it, a group of Czech citizens recently declared their own war on drugs. Their weapons: bikes, drug information booklets, running shoes and rallies.
“ Here I am with these two children and I realize I can no longer be blind to the dangers that all of these drugs are creating,” says Jan Schicker, one of the group’s members. “I can’t allow my children to grow up surrounded by people trying to sell them meth. I have to do something to change that scene.
A 41-year-old real estate agent, Jan has been a sportsman for most of his life, first being involved in judo and then moving on to cycling. “Sports is a natural kind of ‘high,’” he says. “You don’t need or even want to take drugs if you are really serious about sports, so it makes sense to me to divert youth away from drugs and into healthy activities and games.”
Jan joined up with fellow countryman Vlastamil Spalek who had chosen to fight back against drugs by combining a summer marathon that galvanized pro-health, anti-drug sports clubs with the Foundation for a Drug-Free World’s The Truth About Drugs educational campaign. Organized around a series of informational booklets, this highly successful campaign educates people about the dangers of drug use.
Jan’s wife and eleven-year-old daughter joined him along with scores of other volunteers who felt as strongly as he did about the drug problem. They were made even more aware of the situation when, in a recent crackdown on illicit drug manufacturers, police uncovered 456 kitchen drug factories scattered across this nation of only 10 million people.
And so, with this latest news in mind, the group ran and bicycled across the 9 thousand kilometers that stretch from the Slovak border on the east to the German frontier on the west. As they made their way across country they distributed The Truth About Drugs booklets and lectured in every village along the way. As a result, Jan’s group got mayors, police officers and citizens of all ages to sign a pledge to remain drug-free. Altogether, the group conducted anti-drug rallies in 4,700 town squares, at which point 19 news outlets throughout the country picked up the story and began playing The Truth About Drugs public service announcements.
The results: the Czech government reports that for the first time in several years, soaring methamphetamine use has suddenly dropped by 2 percent and marijuana use by 6 percent. Most telling, however, is that drug related deaths are down by 30 percent.
In a recent radio interview, the head of a drug prevention and treatment center in Prague stated that there is evidence indicating those exposed to anti-drug education programs, in particular, are choosing to remain drug-free.
“Giving young people the information about what drugs actually do to their bodies and minds really makes the most sense,” says Jan. “No one who is sane wants to die, and we just show them that whether it’s fast or slow, drugs are the road to death. It is exactly as the campaign says: ‘Say No to Drugs, Say Yes to Life.’ We aren’t giving up this fight until we have a drug-free Czech Republic.”