Area middle school kids have some extra money in their pockets thanks to what they’ve learned about illegal drugs and alcohol.
The Northland Coalition along with Tri-County Mental Health Services hosted “It’s time to Make a Deal,” program at the Northland Police Academy in Kansas City on Saturday.
The program was made up of seventh-grade students from Ray, Clay and Platte counties that won their local competitions. The competition is based off the TV game show “Let’s Make a Deal,” with comedian Howie Mandel.
Tri-County Youth Prevention Specialist Ryan McElhaney said the once-a-year event switched last year from the “Who Wants to be a Millionaire.” to its current format.
“We changed it because not a lot of kids knew about ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire,’” McElhaney said. “It was kind of outdated.”
McElhaney said the new format also allows adult resources to become more involved in the game. One aspect that carried over from the old game was the use of a “life line” by the contestants. Each team can use adult resources one time to answer a question. Adult resources included police officers and school counselors. Locally, Ray County Coalition President Shannon Wollard and Richmond High School student Nicole Palmer participated in the game.
McElhaney, who played the part of Howie Mandel, said she fit into the part because of her energy.
“My job is to have fun with the kids and make them relaxed. It’s a nervous setting for them. I help them think through the questions,” she said. “For some reason, I seem to speak their language.”
The teams of kids must first buzz in and answer a question correct before any other team to get a chance to go onstage and sit with McElhaney. The teams then answer questions of different degree based on the dollar amount of the case they chose to open up. Some cases were worth as much as $500. In total the kids left with more than $4,850.
The three-person teams are chosen by local competitions at their schools. McElhaney said the kids start out by filling out a worksheet based on an Internet program. Local students are then chosen to go to the Northland competition.
Ray County Coalition Project Director Theresa Rice said the program makes sure that kids get the correct information. She said just Goggling the word marijuana brings up several Web sites that don’t tell the whole story.
“This is the generation age where they go online for information,” Rice said. “You’re going to get some information that you’re not going to find as valid. They’re going to find out everything about marijuana except for the harmful effects of marijuana. We want to give them Web sites that they can go to find more information.”
Rice said the Coalition targets middle school kids because studies show that is the time where kids begin to experiment. Rice said a lot of kids think they know a lot about drugs but find out differently when they take the program.
“They believe that they know a lot of information about drugs and alcohol,” Rice said. “But they find when they go through the program and they didn’t study for it they’re going to have a lot difficulty answering the questions accurately.”
Both women said that the kids in the program would know more about drugs and alcohol than what their peers do. They say that can be valuable when kids are talking amount themselves.
“They talk with their friends, and peer- to-peer messages seem to have a bigger impact on some kids more than others,” Rice said. “Some look at adults as mentors, some look at other peers as mentors. We want to make sure that whether it’s coming from an adult or it’s coming from a peer they’re getting that positive reinforcement.”
Ray County teams were: Richmond; Kristin Vantrump, Jessica Austin, Trysten Bever and Josh Pryor. Orrick; Dariah Robbins, Hannah Sumpter, Lucy Dickson and Jacob Jennings. Hardin-Central; Michael Carpenter. Evan Griggs, Cameron Booker and Terry Barron. Excelsior Springs; Micah Dillman, Trevor Baldridge, Chris Hope and Amanda Helt. Lawson; Darcie Bradford, Landon Lampkin, Brady Edwards and Mikayla Anderson. Missouri City; Tyler Thompson, Taylor Sass and Travis Thomson. Stet; Casey Cline, Cody Cline, Dillan Hall and Mary Penny.
Photo: Orrick seventh-grader Lucy Dickson squeezes the hot trigger while her and fellow seventh-grade teammates, Darian Robbins, left, and Hanna Sumpter await the question to appear on the screen in the lighting round of “It’s Time to Make a Deal,” Saturday at the Northland Police Academy in Kansas City. The game is based off of TV’s “Let’s Make a Deal” show. The kids were tested on their knowledge of drugs and alcohol. The event was sponsored by the Northland Coalition. (Photo by Dennis Sharkey/The Daily News)