Latest Issue

TOO SMART TO START: An Anti-Drug Education Initiative Through Water Bottles

Barry Rake is a man on a mission. That mission is to educate young people to save them from the scourge and dangers of drug and opioid abuse. To do so, he has an initiated an educational program in which sport water bottles with the slogan “TOO SMART TO START” emblazoned on them, included is a bookmark that has helpful hints for the adults on talking with the youth about drugs and alcohol are distributed to youth throughout Lycoming County.

Since the program was inaugurated last fall, more than 10,000 water bottles have been distributed to youngsters through the auspices of such organizations as schools, Little League Baseball, the John H. Bower Sunday Basketball League, 4-H, Cub Scouts, church organizations, elementary school organizations, River Valley Dental, Special Olympics, YMCA child care, the Liberty Arena, Saving Lives For Zachary, and the United Commercial Council 350.

How and why did this ambitious program get started? According to Rake, it got its initial start in the state of Ohio by a Mr. Charles Niles. Mr. Niles a longtime Little League volunteer and district administrator, who lost a son at age 53 to a heroin overdose. He knew then he had a mission in life to do something. Niles developed an educational program by distributing water bottles to the youth. As of 2017, he had distributed nearly 20,000 water bottles throughout Ohio.

“I have been a Little League volunteer umpire for the past 47 years. I read about Mr. Niles endeavor on the Little League web-page and said to myself, someone needs to promote this program here in Lycoming County,” Rake told “Webb Weekly.” “I approached the District Attorney, Lycoming County Commissioners and West Branch Drug and Alcohol Abuse Commission to determine if this was a good program for the youth of the county, (those between the ages of 5 and 13).

We collectively decided this was a worthwhile program to help educate the youth to say no to drugs. Rake continued, “We developed the slogan on the water bottles that says: ‘TOO SMART TO START.’ On behalf of the West Branch Drug and Alcohol Abuse Commission, Lycoming County Commissioners, and the District Attorney, I agreed to facilitate the water bottle program here in this county.”

He emphasized that “No taxpayer money has been used. The Lycoming County Commissioners bought the water bottles by using funds from the gas impact fees. He said he would be remiss if he did not send out a special thank you to all the volunteers who have given their time in dispensing the water bottles. Also a thank you to the Youth Task Force that will be volunteering their time at all the District 12 Little League opening day ceremonies later in the month. Our program here in Lycoming County has even received national coverage in the March 2018 issue of the Referee Magazine.

Rake was asked why he got involved in a project like this and he said. “My wife Brenda and I have friends that lost a son to overdose; therefore, I felt this was a way I could be better able to help them in their grieving in losing a son to drugs. I also believe that you make a difference in people lives by being involved.”

Early reports are that the water bottle campaign is being met with a positive response.

“I have had a great positive reaction from the adults,” Rake said. “I have received numerous thank you notes in the mail from parents and grandparents. And received very positive remarks from the adults at all the different youth groups we attend. One father mention he wished his daughter would have had one of these bottles.”

He believes any time we can help educate the adults and youth on this very important societal problem it should have a positive influence in having more youth say no to drugs. In addition, the adults can gain some helpful hints (bookmark included in the water bottle), on how to talk with their youth about drugs.)

“As the facilitator, I will work with the anti-drug and alcohol agencies to seek funding and volunteers,” Rake said. “I will also strive to further educate both adults and youth to say no to drugs, and be ‘TOO SMART TO START.’”

On April 29, at the invitation of Lycoming County Coroner, Charles Kiessling, Rake will discuss the program at the Safe Kids Day at the YWCA. In addition, he will be speaking about the program at the April 12 Williamsport Kiwanis Club meeting.

Rake said if other youth groups in the county would like to have Rake or anyone else involved with the program attend one of their meetings or gatherings, they can email him at and he would be happy to reach out to them.

1 comment

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

1 Comment

  • Tony Mussare
    April 5, 2018, 2:44 pm

    Barry Rake is the epitome of a concerned and caring volunteer. I have known Barry for most of my life and can say he is a person who does not want recognized for any of his good deeds. Barry has given most of his time to improve the quality of life for the people of Lycoming County. God has a special place in heaven for you my friend.