The organizers of a teen event in May want to teach children to never try drugs, including highly addictive opiates like heroin.
“Not even once” is the motto of CRUSH, Community Resources United to Stop Heroin.
CRUSH is spearheaded by Brianne Barr, assistant prosecuting attorney, and Sherry Huxel, 20th District treatment court administrator.
The Teen Drug Summit will be Friday, May 10, at the First Christian Church. It is geared to middle school students to teach them about the dangers of all illegal drugs.
The event is modeled off a St. Charles County event held over the past few years. Barr and Huxel have attended two of those events including the most recent last November.
“We were blown away,” Barr said. “We thought, ‘Why can’t we do our own county?’ ”
The committee has been meeting monthly for more than a year and there has been tremendous support from all school districts in the county, as well as first responder who will participate in the event.
Organizers are planning for 300 students to attend the event.
“We are very excited and hope that it will go off without a hitch,” Huxel commented.
Each school district in Franklin County will select students to attend the summit with the idea that they will take what they learned back to their classmates. Barr said the school administrators will determine who to send.
The program will kick off with a re-enactment of an overdose from ambulance personnel, including a real 911 call of a heroin overdose.
“It is very powerful and gets the kids in the mindset of what the day is about,” Barr added.
Then the students will break out into smaller groups to hear from presenters, including those in recovery, law enforcement and drug task force officers, family members of addicts, and others. There also will be vendors on hand with information and swag, including the Drug Enforcement Agency, Mercy Hospital, the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office and Al-Anon.
The day will conclude with a performance by the Awaken Project, a “high-energy, multi-sensory” experience designed for younger people about the impact of their choices.
Barr noted it is a rock concert with a message.
“It is a heavy day for the kids, and we want them to leave on a high note,” she said.
The teen drug summit is a deterrent to drug use, and particularly a response to the heroin epidemic plaguing Franklin County and the country.
Something Huxel, formerly with the probation and patrol office, and Barr see too often.
“Our motto is not even once,” Huxel explained.
“If you use once you could be hooked for life,” Barr added.
Middle school students, particularly seventh- and eighth-graders, are targeted because many may be offered drugs in high school.
“We wanted to start even before high school, not that (high school) is too late, but in drug court we hear people say that they started younger than that,” Barr said.
She added that with drugs like heroin, not only comes addiction, but there also could be loss of employment, felony charges and treatment.