Pubdate: Fri, 09 Dec 2016
Source: Langley Times (CN BC)
Copyright: 2016 Langley Times
Author: Monique Tamminga
Series: Dying to get high


Alex Wilkinson and Preston Pearce both had infectious smiles, lots of
friends and family who deeply loved them. As well, they both graduated
from Walnut Grove Secondary.

What the two also had in common, tragically, is that they both died at
19 from a drug overdose.

Family and friends of the two WGSS alumni have made a powerful video
that can be seen on Youtube (WGSS Drug Awareness Video - We Are a 

In the video, Alex's younger sister, Grace, speaks about her brother,
saying he was always looking after her, was goofy and "the best big

"I really want to get rid of the stigma (of using drugs) and I really
want you to know it's OK ... to come forward and it's OK to ask for
help," she said.

"Even if this video helps one person, it will be worth

Preston's mom, Judith, pleads with young people to call 911
immediately if a friend who has used drugs appears sleepy, or looks
like they are going to pass out, as was the case with her son.

"Preston's friends couldn't wake him up. Best chance of survival is to
make the effort to try and wake them up and call 911."

The video, made by five WGSS Grade 12 students, was played for the
entire student body at the end of an assembly last week, during Drug
Awareness Week. During that assembly, a young person who recently came
through recovery spoke to the students.

Youth care worker Rosemary Davis helped the students put the video

When Alex passed away in April, many of his friends were still
attending WGSS or had recently graduated from the school like he did.

"A lot of them gathered here to grieve," she said. Alex played hockey
in Langley with a tight-knit group of teens who had suffered a lot of
loss in a short amount of time, she said.

As well, the team lost best friends Brendan Wilson and Austin
Kingsborough in 2013 when they drowned in a lake near Merritt.

"We, as a school, decided to give them a place to talk about how they
were feeling. Out of that, the kids said, 'We need to let people know
what it feels like to lose a friend, a family member. We have to let
them know to stop playing with drugs.'"

But the group believes that for the message to hit home, it couldn't
be lecturing or judgmental.

For Rosemary, it has become very personal, she said.

"In the last three years, five young people have died of overdoses,"
she said. "I've been a youth worker for a long time and I've never
experienced anything like this.

"We don't want to go to any more funerals."
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