Scared Money teaches MSS students responsible gambling

M’CHIGEENG—The students at Manitoulin Secondary School (MSS) were in for a very informative session last month as the Responsible Gambling Council (RGC) showcased their live, interactive youth drama ‘Scared Money.’ The focus of the live drama is teen gambling and the risks involved.

It is estimated that the three to four percent of the more than one-third of students between the ages of 15 and 17 who gamble are having a problem with that activity and that rate will double by the time those youth turn 18. Scared Money seeks to show the risks involved in teen gambling.

Theresa Noon, of Kitchener, was the spokesperson for the actors involved in the drama and she explained that the program is most effective because it is done by a drama. “We are entertaining,” she explained, “and they are learning.”

Ms. Noon has been acting for over 20 years and has appeared in film and on television and also on radio. She is a singer as well as an actor and plays in a country band. She is joined for this live drama by three other actors including Justin Collette, Nicole Coenen and Rjay Garcia and sound technician Austin Cole. All are from the Toronto area. Although the group has toured other provinces, the focus this year is on Ontario. “We played Moosonee before coming to M’Chigeeng,” said Ms. Noon. “Moosonee was wonderful. It went really well.”

Scared Money tells the story of Caleb who is faced with a lot of questions and is under a lot of pressure. He doesn’t know whether he should keep working at the job he has or go to college. He is worried about his band and their chance of making it big and he would really like to have a closer relationship with fellow band member Daniella.

Caleb’s friend Fiona introduces him to online gaming and it doesn’t take long for him to be playing poker for real money. He plays so much that he loses his rent money and his job, maxes out his credit card and becomes very discouraged about what he should do.

“You are playing with scared money,” his friend Rafi tells Caleb in an effort to get him to stop. “When are you going to learn?”

Band member Daniella also trys to help by suggesting that Caleb contact the gambling helpline but he decides instead to gamble some more to try to have one big win. He uses the money the group has saved to perform in a music festival. Needless to say, he loses it all and Rafi finds out that he took the band’s money. Daniella gives Caleb the number of the gambling helpline and this time he calls. “I can never apologize enough for what I’ve done,” he tells his friends.

When the live drama concludes, the actors then separate the MSS students into two groups and play a quiz game asking what could Caleb have done? The pupils are quick to come up with the answers that were the messages in the drama including ‘don’t borrow money to gamble,’ ‘do other activities,’ ‘don’t gamble,’ ‘ask for help’ and ‘set money and time limits.’

The play also places a focus on bullying when it is discovered that Fiona has been sending inappropriate messages about Daniella. As well, information about where to get help locally is given to the MSS students.

If you are concerned about gambling or if someone you know is having problems, the students were told, then call Outpatient Addictions and Gambling Services, Sudbury Mental Health and Addictions Centre at 705-523-4988 extension 0. People can also call the Ontario Problem Gambling Helpline at 1-888-230-3505, which is a 24 hour line.

The RGC is an independent non-profit organization dedicated to problem gambling prevention. For gambling prevention tips and strategies, go to www.responsiblegambling.org.

After performing at MSS, the live drama group was then off to perform in Hanmer and Sudbury.