Tuesday, October 20, 2020

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Guilford Community to Celebrate DAY Week

Amidst growing conversations over the opioid crisis in shoreline communities, members of the Guilford community are doing their part to encourage students to live substance free lifestyles. From Saturday, May 14 to Saturday, May 21, Guilford students and parents can celebrate DAY (Development Assets for Youth) Week, a week of activities and awareness recognizing the choice to be substance free.

DAY Week is designed to build upon the momentum started last year through Project Purple, an initiative designed to encourage students and parents to stand up to substance abuse, according to DAY Week Adult Co-Chair Lisa Ott.

“The community really came together to create a visual message that we recognize that the majority of kids live substance free and that we support their efforts to live positively,” she said. “We started a conversation last year that Guilford isn’t a magical town, immune to the same issues that face towns across the country, but together, we can create a healthier environment for our youth.”

Throughout the week, students will engage in educational activities. Banners displaying substance abuse statistics will be displayed at Baldwin and Adams middle schools and Guilford High School (GHS) and the Town Green.

“There will be a flag display of Guilford’s statistics that show the majority of kids make the choice to live positively, which sometimes gets lost because the pictures that end up on Snapchat don’t necessarily show the kids who are just hanging out, having a good time with their friends,” she said. “We want to let youth and families know they aren’t alone, that the choices you made yesterday don’t have to be the ones that you make today, that our town is committed to standing up and helping each other.”

In addition to the banners, DAY organizers will be painting the town purple to help promote awareness.

“A major focus of the week is to paint the town purple to create that visual message of support,” Ott said. “We’ll have plenty of purple ribbon to share and hope that people will tie it to their trees, mailboxes, cars, etc., and that people will wear purple and get creative with how they help spread purple pride.”

While DAY Week is a community initiative, DAY is a youth-led organization, with youth co-chairs taking leading roles in events.

“Our youth leaders plan and implement the activities for the week, because they are the experts, both in what it’s like to be growing up here, and because they’ve studied the research and the science,” she said. “They are committed to sharing their message and are comfortable working with adults.”

Youth Co-Chair Jane Marchand, a senior at GHS, said she hopes the week will help bring attention to substance abuse in a productive manner.

“DAY is not only passionate about preventing drug use, but making the youth in our community feel valued,” she said. “We are hoping by bringing attention to the drug epidemic in a positive way, kids will think twice before using.”

Of the many activities planned, the week will kick-off with a 5k Color Run in which runners will be dyed with brightly colored powder as they complete the circuit. The run is held in collaboration with Lifelinx Race for Recovery, a non-profit agency that provides services for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities, at the Guilford Fairgrounds.

“The 5K run/walk is dedicated to Nick Kruczek and to others who’ve lost the battle with addiction,” said Ott. “We won’t just be throwing purple—there will be lots of color to brighten everyone’s day, and we’ll have a DJ and food trucks. It will be a real celebration.”

Alongside DAY’s efforts, many town departments will be joining in promoting awareness throughout the week including the Board of Selectmen, Parks & Recreation, the Chamber of Commerce, churches, local businesses, and the school administration.

“I think DAY Week is a fantastic opportunity for the community to let our students know that we see and appreciate the positive decisions that they make,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Paul Freeman. “It is an opportunity to focus on students who are making safe and responsible decisions, to focus on the positive in our schools and in our community, and to build on those positives.”

To learn more about DAY Week, sign up for the Color Run, or to get involved, visit www.itsworthitguilford.org.

Zoe Roos covers news for Guilford and Madison for Zip06. Email Zoe at z.roos@shorepublishing.com.

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