A Reisterstown group hopes the tragic death last summer of 3-year-old Ryan Garth Davis-Shanahan provides a catalyst for spreading information about substance abuse. The little boy was run down by a car while playing in the yard of his home in Delight, near Reisterstown.
Tomorrow, "Neighbors Against Drug and Alcohol Abuse," a non-profit volunteer organization for the Reisterstown area, plans distribute a packet of information about drug and alcohol prevention and treatment programs to more than 8,000 students in northwest Baltimore County.
Gail Shane, president of the group, said the "senselessness" of the July 8 accident moved Neighbors to dedicate the folder to Ryan's memory. He was killed July 3 when a car driven by a 20-year-old Pikesville woman ran into his yard in the 100 block of Timber Grove Road.
Amy Bolte, the driver, is to be tried Oct. 24 in Baltimore County Circuit Court on charges of automobile manslaughter, homicide by motor vehicle and driving while intoxicated.
"We needed to do something," Shane said. "It was a very tragic and emotional thing that happened."
The packet of information being distributed to students includes a message from Ryan's mother, Suzan McLaughlin.
"I thought that if I didn't abuse drugs and alcohol myself, my kids would be safe," she wrote. "I was wrong. This is an issue that needs to be addressed by the whole community. It's everyone's concern.
"Many parents close their eyes to what's going on. Who knows why," Shane said. "We're trying to get to those people. If we can save one life, it's worth it.
"The kids get information in school, especially in elementary school," Shane said. "But what about parents? A lot of times parents don't know how to detect if their child is using drugs. They [parents] don't know where to go."
The folder includes information such as "Ten Steps to Help Your Kid Say No" and "No Hang Ups," a teen phone line set up to provide information on a variety of topics.
The schools participating in the distribution of the folders are Cedarmere, Franklin, Glyndon, Owings Mills, Reisterstown and Timbergrove elementary schools; Deer Park and Franklin middle schools; Franklin and Owings Mills high schools; and the Chatsworth School. Also, private schools Sacred Heart, Garrison Forest and McDonogh will be distributing folders.
Neighbors, which Shane said is still in its infancy, held an area-wide poster contest among students. Brandi Swietkowski, a Cedarmere elementary student, designed the winning art that's
being used for the cover of the packet: a skull surrounded by pills and "pot," or marijuana, and the slogan "Be Smart, Don't Start. Slam The Door On Drugs."