Substance Abuse Memorial held at Central Park
By Mallory Graves
The Carter County Substance Abuse Prevention Committee partnered with Wichita Mountain Prevention Network in efforts to make the Substance Abuse Memorial happen on Thursday night in Central Park.
“The purpose of this event is to bring awareness to substance abuse and to remember those who have lost their lives because of this." Chelsey Stevenson, prevention specialist with Wichita Mountain Prevention Network, said. "If anyone has lost their lives to substance abuse, we just wanted to remember and honor them for this event.”
This was the third year for the event.
“We have had it at a couple of different locations,” Stevenson said. “The first year back in 2018 we had it at Central Park and last year we were at the Methodist Church. We came back to the park this year, because we can easily social distance from each other and carry on the traditions of releasing balloons.”
Many people show up to support this cause and honor those who have fallen to substance misuse.
“Last year was our biggest turn-out of the event, and I would say there was at least a hundred people there,” Stevenson said. “With the weather being so cool this evening, we’re expecting around 50 to a hundred people to show up, but that’s just a rough estimate off of last year’s numbers.”
The event included free goodie bags with information about substance abuse, raffle tickets were handed out for prizes, free medication disposal systems, and hot chocolate and coffee supplied by The Salvation Army. There were also free lock boxes provided so that people can store and safely put away their medications at home.
“We’ve had some donated items from the Chickasaw Nation that we’re raffling off,” Stevenson said. “KKAJ has been awesome getting our information out by doing radio pushes for us. Joe Baker is a local resident, and good friend of ours and he actually volunteered to sing at the event. We also had three speakers speak at the event as well. They were Amy Miller, Aiden Rushing and Natasha Knight.”
Stevenson sees a bright future for this event.
“In the future events, I would like to see more people coming out,” Stevenson said. “Last year, we partnered with Celebrate Recovery and a lot of the houses here, and the turn-out was a little bit bigger. Given the circumstances with the weather and the pandemic, I think this year’s turn-out was alright. I would really like to see the community coming together making this bigger and better for years to come.”
“I would like to see more of the community to become involved and for people to realize that substance abuse can happen to anyone," Lisa Jackson, chair of the Carter County Substance Abuse Prevention Committee, said. "As a community, we just need to be supportive of each other and help educate people so we can prevent things like substance misuse from happening.”