The GRAAB Coalition’s “31 Days of Prevention” is designed to educate, collaborate and empower the residents of Bradley County on the dangers of substance abuse and the opportunity for recovery.
“Last year’s 31 days brought us more partnerships with the media, service learning programs, and school systems,” said Tanya Southerland, Going Respectfully Against Addictive Behaviors executive director. “This year we are focusing on the community as a whole.”
Events are planned through the end of the October with more activities being scheduled every day.
Awareness events include informational tables at the Cleveland Bradley County Public Library and local YMCA, Pink Ribbon Bowl, CASA Moonlight Walk for Melisha Gibson, Red Ribbon Week, and open houses.
“We will have an open house at the beginning of the month and near the end. Those interested can come by, learn more about GRAAB and sign up as a volunteer,” Southerland said.
Individuals and groups are encouraged to join the coalition. Southerland hopes the open houses will encourage monthly group meetings.
The two open houses will be on Monday, Oct. 8, and Wednesday, Oct. 24. Members of the community are encouraged to drop by 940 South Ocoee St. between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.
“In the broad sense of the term, a member could be anyone who has a passion for making their community better,” Southerland said.
“They do not necessarily need to know anything about drugs. I tell people it does not matter as long as you have a passion for seeing your community thrive and develop and grow healthy.”
According to Southerland, half the work is informing the public GRAAB is still an operating organization. October is a time to discourage substance abuse, as well as, encourage participation in the organization.
Scott Webb, Walker Valley teacher in charge of electronic media management and operations, has allowed his students to read statistics provided by Southerland on “The Spill.”
The Spill’s website reads, “The GRAAB Coalition and The Spill have partnered to fight underage drinking and over-the-counter drug abuse. For more information about GRAAB activities, please visit their website- www.graabcoalition.com.”
“When I post something on GRAAB’s twitter, Webb retweets the information,” Southerland said. “We are hitting our target audience. It is a really great partnership.”
A partnership between WVHS and GRAAB will hopefully expand to include public service announcements created by media students, Southerland said.
Parent workshops, Civil Air Patrol presentations on drug demand reduction, listening sessions and presentations with various GRAAB partners, health fairs, and general coalition meetings will be included in the “31 Days of Prevention.”
These meetings are vital, according to Southerland. She believes change will not come from just her efforts.
“Nationally, we are seeing prescription drug abuse has become an epidemic. I know it will take more than just one individual. It will take more than just me getting the word out,” Southerland said.
“Although, maybe someone will see my determination and passion for keeping youth off drugs and be inspired to help.”
More information can be found at GRAAB’s Twitter and Facebook pages. Southerland will be updating both to keep the public up-to-date on the events for October.
“GRAAB is here as an educational resource for both adults and youth. We would love to do a presentation,” Southerland said.
“If people are looking to tell their story with addiction, or their struggles with a loved one’s addiction, then we welcome then to join the coalition. There are many people struggling with addiction every day who could learn from their stories.”
Date of some scheduled events:
n Informational Table at the Cleveland YMCA: Oct. 10, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Oct. 15, 3 to 6 p.m.; Oct. 20, 9 a.m. to noon.
n CASA Moonlight Walk for Melisha Gibson: Oct. 11, 7 p.m.
n Pink Ribbon Bowl: Oct. 18, 5:45 p.m., at Walker Valley High School
n Fall Festival at the YMCA: Oct. 26, 6 to 8 p.m.