"Matt John Evans speaks to teens about drinking."

by Kaesha Forand, Import News Staff (Port Colborne).

If a friend, co-worker or classmate went to a party with a six-pack of milk and vomited after having three, they would be the target of numerous jokes the next day.  But when someone goes to a party with a six pack of beer and vomits after downing three, most people wouldn't consider it out of the ordinary.  

It's a reality that Matt John Evans doesn't like to see:  people including teens looking foward to getting drunk week after week and their friends looking on as they have drink after drink to the point where they get drunk and are sick.

Evans, an educator and actor, has worked with youth programs across Canada for more than 15 years.  He now talks about alcohol and impaired driving among other topics high school students face.  The witty actor used comedy to engage students and deliver the negative message of drinking and driving to grades 11 and 12  students at Port Colborne High School and Lakeshore Catholic High school, last Wednesday.  "I can crack jokes, buts it's a very serious situation that sometimes needs a different approach," he said, noting teens and young adults will face numerous challenges in their lives.  "You're not going to beat every challenge but you will look back on life and see the challenges you overcame."

Looking back at his own challenges, Evans was constantly told by teachers as a youngster that he didn't care or try at school and was failing.  In grade 10, he was diagnosed with dyslexia, another challenge he had to overcome.  After high school, he embarked on a journey with Katimavik, which encourages volunteerism for nine months.  From there he decided to turn his life around.  He earned a degree in communications at Wilfrid Laurier University, where for the first time in his life, he listened, tried and worked.

Evans then studied education at the University of Winnipeg and acting at George Brown College.  To date, he has appeared in Beowulf and Grendel, Black Swan and Things to Do.  He won four best actor awards from the Western Ontario Drama League.  Once his studies were complete, he began volunteering - and is now the executive director of Ontario Students Against Impaired Driving (OSAID).  He has delivered his message to thousands of students.

"Impaired driving is the No. 1 killer of teenagers.  Not crack or handguns," he said.  "Every 30 minutes someone smacks up a car due to impaired driving."  He said wearing a seatbelt increases chance of survival by 80 per cent and stressed that the majority of teens die on back roads in single-vehicle accidents coming home from a party.

"In Canada we have a problem with booze.  Not only with teends, but with adults.  Only in Canada, we treat it like a descendent from heaven.  It's not normal, its abnormal.  You're not supposed to drink and puke.  If all you think about is getting wasted all the time, you need help -- no matter what age you are."

He said friends should talk to each other and express concerns with their drinking habits and their actions when they're drunk.  He said this should be brought to their attention when they're young, since peer pressure only gets worse when they become adults.

"When they walk away it may have worked, may not have worked...but you did what friends should do."


Matt is presently booking speaking engagements for the 2016 calendar year.  If you are a teacher, counsellor and affiliated with a youth organization who may benefit from hearing Matt's motivational talk - please contact him today for more details.  To send Matt a message, please use our online contact form and he will be in touch with you shortly.

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