As a substance abuse prevention program that works with our communities to educate on the risks of substance abuse, collaboration and building awareness are integrated into the fabric of our program.
It is our most recent venture into the realm of collaboration that got me thinking about those threads of fabric, and our willingness as staff to let these threads move and strengthen us.
Since our beginning in 2006 Know the Truth has roughly conducted more than 5,500 presentations to over 260,000 students, parents and educators. We work with schools, parent groups and community organizations to build awareness. We cater our message to the demographic that we are presenting to. Our peer to peer format is well received by students and respected by educators. Presenting in 13 different schools a week our presenters will sometimes share their personal story of addiction more than 30 times, knowing that whether it is the 2nd or 28th time that week someone needs to hear what they have to say.
Whether it is a teenager that is struggling with depression and desires hope, a parent that is at the end of their rope and craves encouragement, or a child that needs to understand why their family acts the way they do. Our willingness to be open, honest, and even vulnerable at times creates the opportunity for connection.
So when I was approached about collaborating with the 4th largest county in the great state of Minnesota about building awareness around the issue of opiate addiction, there was no doubt in my mind that the only answer was yes. It was a chance to be a part of 3 different community forums that reach out to a community that last year alone had over 30 heroin overdoses claiming more than 10 lives. This is what our program does!
Here comes the open, honest, vulnerable part…..
It was those thoughts that got me thinking. If collaboration and building awareness are part of our fabric why is it that it has taken almost 8 years to participate in an event of this magnitude and why were we not the ones asking?
This question led thoughts like, we are too busy, we can do it by ourselves and maybe we should have thought of this. As someone who has been in recovery for the past 6 years this thought process is all too familiar, it is also one that I do not have time for. This is not about ego or regret. This is about awareness. This is about educating as many people as we can so people stop dying.
Our program is honored and humbled to partner with the Anoka County Sheriff, Anoka County Attorney and the Anoka County Commissioner as a part of 3 community forums in Anoka County in the next 3 weeks with the kick off this evening. The dates and details of these events can be found here: http://knowthetruthmn.org/events/
Getting ready for these events has been a treat for me and my staff. Our program has been working in Anoka County since year one of this program. Will Connell one of our Lead Presenters describes one of the high schools this way; “visiting Anoka High School is like visiting an old friend. The friend is one of a kind, the type of friend that I feel comfortable with. I share my personal story of addiction with students who won’t shy away from voicing their encouragement and personal relation to my struggles.”
We are fighting a battle. With prescription opiates that create the perfect gateway to heroin that is 93% pure, collaboration and awareness cannot be something we think about. As workers in the field of prevention and treatment, collaboration needs to become our main objective.
You always hear that there is power in numbers, yet so many strive to be number one. What if we focus less on beating the competition and more on growing the amount of competition? The more “competition” the more opportunity we have to collaborate.
So today we are excited to join forces with Anoka County. We hope that our successes and failures over the past 8 years provide opportunity for learning, growth and forward movement!