On Thursday, Jan. 19, at the Darien Public Library, Ingrid Gillespie, executive director of Communities 4 Action, and Emily Larkin, Thriving Youth Program Coordinator at The Community Fund of Darien, announced the three winners of the NoRxAbuse.com slogan contest. The awards were presented at the Darien Health Department’s second session on “How Healthy Are We: Substance Abuse, Impacts and Consequences,” organized by Darien Director of Health David Knauf.
Out of the 114 entries, the first place award with a $250 prize went to Catherine Garrett, a tenth grade student at Darien High School, for the slogan “Rx: Popping Pills Kills.” Two honorable mention awards of $100 were given to Greenwich High School twelfth grader Emma Barefoot for the slogans “No excuse for RX abuse and Choose to Abuse-You Lose* as well as to Darien High School twelfth grade student Catherine Arrix for the slogan “The First Pill Could Be Your Last.” A list of the winners and contestants are listed on the NoRxAbuse.com contest page.
The slogan contest, which was open to middle and high school students, was a joint effort of the Communities 4 Action Opioid Prevention Committee and was part of a campaign to raise awareness about the dangers of prescription drug abuse. To participate, students visited the website NoRxAbuse.com to learn the facts and complete their entries. There they also explained what they learned about prescription drug abuse, how to prevent friends from abusing prescription drugs, and how the contest helped them discuss the topic with their parents and friends.
The Communities 4 Action Opioid Prevention Committee consists of members from Darien, Stamford, New Canaan, and Greenwich including Deidre Anspach (Stamford Health Department), Ellen Brezovsky (Silver Hill Hospital), Ellen Bromley (City of Stamford), Kathy Brown (Recovery Coaching for Families), Dennis Torres (Family Centers School-based Health Centers), Rich Conklin (Stamford Police Department), Terri Drew (Stamford Youth Services Bureau), Ingrid Gillespie (Communities 4 Action), Jeff Holland (Communities 4 Action), Ted Jankowski (Director, City of Stamford Public Safety, Health and Welfare), Pam Kaprowski (Stamford Hospital and VITA), Debra Katz (Kids in Crisis), Ginger Katz (Courage to Speak Foundation), David Knauf (Darien Health Department), Steve Kolenberg (Stamford City Representative), Bob Lawlor (New England High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area HIDTA Program), Barbara Occhino (Vertex Marketing Communications), Kelsey Opozda (New England High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area HIDTA Program), Paul Reinhardt (New Canaan Parent Support Group), Jayme Stevenson (First Selectman of Darien), and Maggie Young (Liberation Programs Inc).
The session speakers discussed how opioid addiction and prescription drug abuse are an epidemic that is sweeping the country, Darien, and other communities. Startling statistics were presented including how misuse of prescription medication has become the number one cause of drug overdose deaths and how Connecticut is among the top ten states for illicit drug dependence among young adults eighteen to twenty five. Malcolm Jauval Spears, Jr., author of “Biggie’s Chronicles” who grew up in Stamford, gave the keynote speech about his own battle with addiction and crime and how the caring people in his life were influential in his recovery via the Liberation Programs Inc. Other speakers included Darien Health Department’s Director David Knauf. Darien Chief of Police Duane Lovello, Darien Police Detective Sargeant Jeremiah Marron, Darien Detective and High School Resource Officer James Palmieri, President and CEO of Liberation Programs Inc. Alan J. Mathis, Doctor Joseph Russo and Maud Purcell of Saved From Addiction, Inc., Associate Minister at the Darien Congregational Church Gary Morello, Communities 4 Action Executive Director Ingrid Gillespie, and Thriving Youth Program Coordinator at The Community Fund of Darien Emily Larkin.