A spark can start a fire

Published 4:52 pm Wednesday, March 27, 2013

By Ruth Harrell — Chair of Coalition for a Healthier Escambia County

As I prepared to write this article I was reminded of the words of an old song “ It only takes a spark to get a fire going”…and I truly believe that the “spark” was ignited on the evening of March 19 at Flomaton High School when the program “Drugs Erase Dreams”  was presented.

The program was the product of a collaborative effort on the part of Flomaton High School, the Flomaton High School LEO Club, the Flomaton Lions Club and members of the Escambia County Judicial System.

Ruth Harrell - chair of the Coalition for a Healthier Escambia County

Ruth Harrell – chair of the Coalition for a Healthier Escambia County

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The slogan “Drugs Erase Dreams “ was provided by Taylor Helton of Atmore and will be utilized to continue the “spark” for a county wide initiative to raise the level of awareness of the general public: parents, grandparents, students, etc., of the presence and dangers of drug use. The members of the judicial system of our county were the speakers for this event on March 19 at which approximately 500 concerned people attended. Judges Bradley Byrne, Dave Jordan, Denise Carlee, coordinator of the adult drug court, Glenn Carlee, director of public safety in Atmore, Scott Walden and Jerame both members of the Drug Task Force all spoke at this important event. The information that they provided was a wake up call for many who attended and pointed to the vital need for the community to become mobilized to address this problem.
In addition to the basic information about the many types of drugs being made available to our young people, the speakers provided in-depth behavioral factors that young people need to have monitored on a daily basis. Parents and others in attendance were apprised of these “warning signals “ and no doubt walked away that night with a better understanding of what to address at home.
The fact of the matter is that much can be done in a pro-active way at an early age to help our young people not become victims of the law enforcement system that they are subjected to when behaviors move them along to that resolution. It is the hope that our communities will rally around this “fire“ of education and information before drugs erase the dreams of their young family members.
The Coalition for Healthier Escambia invites you all to attend the next meeting to help fan this “spark.” Denise Carlee will be our speaker Thursday, April 18 at noon in the education center at the D.W. McMillan Hospital. Sandwiches will be provided. The meeting will last approximately one hour and we hope to offer some challenges to leaders in our county to help develop a plan for addressing this educational need. It is our hope that we will have leaders in all areas of our county attend. For more information please call me at 251-513-0482.