Group fighting substance abuse takes to the streets

By: Brendan Losinski | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published May 14, 2018

 The Birmingham Bloomfield Community Coalition’s Youth Action Board, pictured, completes a variety of projects in the area designed to educate families about the dangers of substance use and abuse. This includes an upcoming 5K walk/run to raise both funds and awareness.

The Birmingham Bloomfield Community Coalition’s Youth Action Board, pictured, completes a variety of projects in the area designed to educate families about the dangers of substance use and abuse. This includes an upcoming 5K walk/run to raise both funds and awareness.

Photo provided by Carol Mastroianni

Advertisement

FRANKLIN — The Birmingham Bloomfield Community Coalition’s Youth Action Board is inviting the public to join it at a 5K walk/run fundraiser to support local programs.

The BBCC’s goal is to raise awareness of teen substance use and abuse through education and dialogue between teens and substance abuse professionals. Carol Mastroianni, the executive director of the Birmingham Bloomfield Community Coalition, said the 5K will directly fund efforts to prevent substance use and abuse in the Birmingham and Bloomfield area.

“The funds will go directly toward programs we have in place, such as Choices Youth Dialogue Day, where we give teens a chance to ask questions about and see the results of substance abuse; the Youth Action Board; and the Middle Transitions Program, where we go into eighth-grade classrooms and give them a better understanding of perception versus reality in regard to substance use,” she explained. “We recently streamlined our programs by keeping only our most successful and impactful programs.”

Racers and walkers can check in at 8 a.m. on Saturday, May 19, with 9 a.m. scheduled as the start time for the event. The event will take place at the Franklin Green on Franklin Road. The cost to participate is $40 per person, although teams of six can register at $20 per person. Those ages 11-17 can join in for $15 each, while children 10 and younger can do so for free. To register, go to app.regwiz.io/register/yab/367.  

This is the first year the event has taken place. It was a product of the BBCC’s Youth Action Board, which consists of high school students from the community. Specifically, it was started by one particular member: Kristen Harvey, a senior at Groves High School.

“Ever since I joined the group, I felt people didn’t really know about us, and it’s hard to do good things when people don’t know who you are,” Harvey remarked. “I take part in sports at my school, and my mom used to work for the Alzheimer’s Association, and we used to take part in their walks, so putting on a walk/run seemed like a good way to raise money.”

Mastroianni said the 5K is important for the organization because it has had to operate at a greatly reduced budget due to the loss of grant money.

“We’re down $130,000 in funding because one of our federal funding grants timed out and we had some other revenue sources reduced,” she said. “This means we are down in resources, which has to service a large community with a lot of needs. … We are the primary prevention organization, and we are trying to make a difference with youth in some very large communities.”

The Youth Action Board chose downtown Franklin as the site of the event because of its accommodating community, and it offered a beautiful and practical location for the 5K.

“It will all take place in downtown Franklin,” Harvey said. “We liked Franklin because it can be a little harder in other cities because they are hesitant to help out. Franklin was very helpful, and it’s centrally located in the community, and we got a great space to start and end just between the library and the church.”

Harvey said the BBCC has gotten great support from local businesses, and because of that, it is able to give out several prizes to those who take part in the 5K.

“We do have prizes from local business and have raised $1,500 (for) gifts to give out to people to win at the walk/run in addition to helping us sponsor the event,” she said. “We’ve got some raffles that will be going on, and we’ll have prizes such as gift cards to local business, gift baskets and treats like free massages.”

The BBCC members are hoping the 5K takes off and is successful enough to bring back year after year. Mastroianni said it’s the result of a long period of hard work on behalf of the Youth Action Board.

“My hopes for the 5K are that I would really love to see community members take part in this run/walk so our YAB is rewarded for hard work and talking about subjects that can be difficult for teens to talk about,” said Mastroianni. “I want their voices to be heard and to feel this was a success.”

Harvey said she believes the mission of the BBCC is an important one. With the prevalence of substance abuse across the country, she said, it’s a cause that can use all the help it can get.

“We have a powerful message and we want to save lives, but we are a small group, and although we do as much as we can, there are a lot of teens who don’t want to realize the consequences of substance use or don’t care, and lots of parents who are in denial too,” she said.

Advertisement