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'Steered Straight' sends powerful life messages to children, teens and young adults

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Michael DeLeon is on a mission. A mission to educate the youth to stay in the right direction when it comes to serious life issues, especially drugs.  

Michael is the founder and force behind Steered Straight, Inc., a non-profit educational and prevention/intervention organization. Steered Straight’s program reaches out to children, teens and young adults with a message of reality about life-choices and the importance of consequential thinking so that they understand that there are consequences to their actions. The Steered Straight program has reached more than one million students around the area.

The reality of the message comes from Michael himself, who was entwined in the life of drugs and traveled a troubling road to get to his future.  

“I remember this one incident where my family’s life became endangered because of my involvement with drugs. A drug deal I was in had gone terribly wrong. I could have lost my wife and daughter because of the path I was going down.”'Steered Straight' sends powerful life messages to children, teens and young adults

Then one of the best things that could have ever happened to Michael happened. He was arrested and served a 10-year sentence: two years in a halfway house and probation.

“I want the kids to look at me and hear me and my story and I want them to understand that no one wants them to go through what I went through and that their futures are so bright.”

Michael has a way of reaching out to the youth so that they understand and listen to him. One of the biggest problems in our society is kids don’t think they can reach out to an adult like their parents, counselors and teachers when they have an issue.  Michael assures them they can because his program works.

Steered Straight brings powerful speakers to schools all over the area to speak to kids of all ages about bullying, drug use, violence, etc. Some of Michael’s speakers have similar experiences to his that they share with the kids as examples of what those negative choices can not only do to themselves, but to those around them. The presentations are unlike any I have ever attended when I went to school. The kids are entranced with the speakers and actually participate and you can just tell that it is clicking in their heads.

Michael tells a story of a student in one of the schools who came up to him and told him of a story of how her boyfriend had come home from college and brought over some pretty harsh pills.  She made the excellent decision to ask him to leave and then spoke to her mother about it. She made the decision to end the relationship when he chose not to give up the drugs.  She could have been another statistic, but she told Michael that she remembered his seminar at her school and how his story affected her and influenced her in a positive way.   

Some may feel that our children need to remain sheltered from these realities. However, we as parents, educators, mentors, role models and adults need to accept that times are indeed different. Michael has seen drug use in kids as young as eight years old. Older siblings are a huge influence nowadays to the younger generation. Parents need to be made aware that kids are encountering these issues and the numbers prove it. Our area has seen an overwhelming increase in heroin use in recent months. It has become an epidemic.

As if Michael wasn’t already doing enough with his crusade to end drug use, his program offers  a mentoring program where an at-risk youth who is in need of one-on-one mentoring can get that service.  He has also partnered up with 2NDFLOOR, which is a confidential and anonymous helpline for New Jersey's youth and young adults.

“I hand out these bracelets after every seminar at a school or wherever I am speaking that has Steered Straight written on it and on the other side of the bracelet has the number for 2NDFLOOR.  2NDFLOOR reports that 3 out of 5 calls they receive come from Michael’s bracelets.

Michael is currently wrapping up a powerful and potentially highly influential documentary that will be finished in the next few weeks. Steered Straight is rapidly expanding. Michael and his wife have sold all of their stocks and emptied their savings to fund this program. This is Michael’s life, to make sure kids don’t make these critical mistakes.  

“I don’t want to just affect one kid; I want to affect them all.”

For more information or to donate or to see how to get Steered Straight to speak at your school or event, please visit http://steeredstraight.org.

Karen Stebbins is a mom of four and wife of a loving husband who shares her love of sports (or else she wouldnt have said yes). Karen is an experienced paralegal and freelance writer on a variety of topics. Sports is her passion and her love of the game is undeniable.


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