This story, originally published by the Kingsport Times-News, appeared Nov. 12, 2017. Copyright 2017 Kingsport Times-News.
KINGSPORT — District attorneys in Northeast Tennessee have filed lawsuits against opioid manufacturers. President Donald Trump has called abuse of the drugs an epidemic, meriting its designation as a nationwide public health emergency.
And to further discussion and awareness of the crisis on the local level, the United Way of Greater Kingsport is encouraging teachers, parents, caregivers and city officials to attend a community forum on Monday night.
The free event will be held at Sullivan South High School on Moreland Drive from 6-8 p.m. Representatives from nearly a dozen health care and community agencies will be on hand with information and resources, while a panel discussion will include Sullivan County District Attorney General Barry Staubus, pediatricians and law enforcement. Light refreshments will also be served.
“At the United Way of Greater Kingsport, we mobilized a drug abuse task force last year,” said Becca Sutphen, UWGK community impact director. “That group has been working hard to address the epidemic and has identified education and intervention as keys to moving forward.”
Sutphen says children and teenagers must be taught resistance to opioid abuse early on and offered alternatives in their formative years. To that end, the Tyler’s Light foundation out of Ohio is taking part in the forum.
The nonprofit was founded by Wayne Campbell, who lost his son to opioids. Campbell has since traveled to more than 250 schools around the country sharing the message “Speak Up! Save a Life!” The Tyler’s Light program teaches teenagers effectively by putting a face, name and story to some of the victims of opioids while equipping communities with information to help people choose a drug-free life. It also provides resources to family members and friends involved in the battle against drug addiction.
The Tyler’s Light program will also be presented to middle school students at Sullivan Gardens and Colonial Heights on Tuesday, then to Sullivan South students on Wednesday. Planning is underway for additional Tyler’s Light programs at otherl Sullivan County schools in the spring.
To answer questions and provide resources, several community agencies will have booths at Monday’s forum: the Sullivan County Anti-Drug Coalition, Recovery at Clay, Comprehensive Community Services, Frontier Health, Nurse Family Partnership, Sullivan County Health Department, Becky Haas- ACEs/Trauma Informed Care, Insight Alliance, Families Free, the Addicts Family, Watauga Recovery Center and UWGK.
The event is being sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield, Sullivan South Athletic Booster Club, Sullivan South Community Chest, Kingsport Housing and Redevelopment Association and UWGK. To find out how you can get involved, contact Becca Sutphen at (423) 378-3409 ext. 13 or at email@example.com.