Mr. Benson, a former high school coach and teacher, relies on his mentoring experiences with students and on his personal life growing up to make a point. Coming from a rough childhood with an alcoholic father, and friends who made harmful choices regarding drugs and alcohol, he is able to reach the students with a message that hits close to home.
“You do not have to become a product of your environment,” said Mr. Benson, speaking to students at the junior high last fall. “You do not have to become what you see around you. You’re one choice away.”
Benson said there are two reasons teens turn to drugs and alcohol: emotional pain and fear of not being accepted or of being bullied. He stated that students should talk to a parent or counselor, not a friend who offers drugs to kill the pain.
“Choices you make today defines who you are tomorrow,” says Mr. Benson.
The program was brought to the junior high by Dr. Bethany Logan, junior high principal, who knew about Benson from her time in Austin.