Like many passionate and dedicated individuals who have made an impact in the world and changed the lives of many, Victoria Morgan’s life mission came from a deeply personal and emotional experience. That experience resulted in BIS KIDS; a program and movement that has helped and encouraged more than 2,000 children and families from Orange County and Los Angeles to lead better and more productive lives.
BIS KIDS is a proactive prevention program against drug and alcohol use. The BIS Foundation was founded in 2006 and is designed for children 7-12 years of age. The program uses age-appropriate language; games; music; artwork; role playing; videos and prizes to educate children about substance abuse and the disease of addiction. The children have great fun and they leave with knowledge and a tool-set that can help them stay safe. BIS KIDS teaches children if they stay away from drugs and alcohol they can accomplish anything they choose to do in life!
Alen Wood had the opportunity to sit down with Victoria Morgan to learn more about her mission, the BIS Foundation, and the BIS KIDS program.
Alen Wood: I am excited to speak with you about this wonderful program. Can you tell me about the BIS KIDS program and what happens at a BIS KIDS event?
Victoria Morgan: Thank you for the opportunity to talk about my foundation and the program that is so dear to my heart. Drugs and alcohol are sucking the lives out of our children. Substance abuse is promoted in our music, on TV, and in the movies. It is in the schools, neighborhoods, communities and at home. Our goal is to empower children! We want them to have the tools they need to stay safe and drug free no matter what is going on around them.
On the first day of the BIS KIDS event, we do role playing and discuss many important questions. Who are the safe people in your life that you can talk to? Who would you call if you needed a ride home and you did not want to call your Mom or Dad? How do you step out of a bullying situation if someone is trying to get you to do something you do not want to do? What do you do if someone offers you a drink of alcohol, a pill or a marijuana cigarette?
The program and BIS KIDS events teach these children about the “addiction monster”! Here is a startling fact: If a child starts drinking alcohol or experimenting with drugs before the age of 15 there is a 50% chance they will become addicted.
On the second day of our workshop we bring in the parents and we teach them everything we have taught the children. We want the entire family on the same page. We want to open the door of communication so families can have discussions about these issues. The parent and child do an activity together. After the group activity the kids graduate from BIS KIDS receiving a certificate of completion and the kids can download the BIS KIDS app (www.thebiskid.com). It is a fun positive game that reinforces what they learned in BIS KIDS!
AW: When people think about “drugs or alcohol abuse”, they generally think about teenagers or adults that are using. Are there some thoughts you have that people should really know about... that perhaps they are unaware of?
VM: Absolutely! Children are affected by substance abuse. They know kids in school that may be experimenting with alcohol, marijuana, street drugs and prescription drugs. They see people smoking marijuana and drinking on TV. It is embedded in our culture. They begin experimenting at a younger age. We have had children in BIS KIDS in middle school that have friends who overdosed on drugs. It is tragic! The kids all knew about Michael Jackson and Prince! The only way to the other side is by education and giving the kids a tool-set that can be applied in slippery situations.
AW: Can you tell us how the idea for creating BIS KIDS came about? What was the motivation for you to start the foundation and program?
VM: In 2005 my only son Colin was killed in alcohol related automobile accident. He was riding in a car with a drunk driver. The driver was a 24-year-old female with a history of substance abuse. My son was 30 years old and had struggled with addiction issues since high school. Everyone’s life changed in that moment. Our family was devastated! We wanted something good and positive to come from this horrible accident. The BIS (Believe In Sobriety) Foundation is a living legacy to my beautiful son. If we can keep one child or one family from experiencing what our family experienced our efforts will have been a success!
AW: You have built a living legacy to Colin and it’s very inspirational. How involved are the communities and cities where you hold BIS KIDS events? Are they supportive and encouraging?
VM: Thank you for asking this question! This is our 8th year doing BIS KIDS in Orange County and Los Angeles and we are literally here because of the incredible support we receive. Working with corporate sponsors, private foundations, individual donors and local agencies enables us to scholarship all the children. We enroll the children on a first-come basis. All children need the skill-set we teach at BIS KIDS.
The key to the program is that the kids have great fun and the parents are so appreciative! We receive tremendous support from North Bound Treatment Services; The Children’s Bureau; All for Kids; The Raise Foundation; Hope By The Sea; The Iacocca Foundation and individual donors. We are expanding BIS KIDS to every city and community in Orange County. The cities officials and community leaders have been extremely supportive!
AW: Wow! Every corporation who provides sponsorship should know about BIS KIDS! Can you tell us about the BIS KIDS team of specialists? Who actually facilitates the program?
VM: A team of trained professionals lead all the BIS KIDS events. Our clinical director is Leslie Cox, a LCSW, and most of our team members are bilingual.
AW: Is there anything else that you would like to communicate to people about the BIS KIDS program?
VM: I could speak forever about what people should know, but education and knowledge are the keys to success! We have to empower our children! Give them the tools they need to take care of themselves. We have to teach our children about this disease. Studies show that using heroin, marijuana, pills, alcohol and nicotine is on the rise! You cannot expect your kids to just say “NO.” We must teach them a set of tools that help them stay safe.