On Oct. 23, the Chippewa Valley Schools Coalition for Youth and Families hosts the 13th annual “Be Aware” 5k for youth suicide prevention at Dakota High School. It’s a fundraiser in partnership with KnowResolve.

On Oct. 23, the Chippewa Valley Schools Coalition for Youth and Families hosts the 13th annual “Be Aware” 5k for youth suicide prevention at Dakota High School. It’s a fundraiser in partnership with KnowResolve.

Photo provided by Charlene McGunn


Coalition to host suicide prevention 5K, drug take-back day

By: Alex Szwarc | C&G Newspapers | Published October 13, 2021

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CLINTON TOWNSHIP/MACOMB TOWNSHIP — One month into the school year, the Chippewa Valley Schools Coalition for Youth and Families is set to provide programs and events to the community.

“It’s the nature of coalitions to change and grow in different ways,” said Charlene McGunn, the coalition’s executive director. “We started off as a small committee, taking care of a small state grant.”

McGunn has been associated with the group from day one.

She said the coalition has evolved over time, becoming one of the largest coalitions in southeast Michigan.

“We are one of the coalitions in the state that has the largest representation of youth,” McGunn said.

The coalition, now in its 27th year, consists of parents, school staff, youth and a cross section of agencies across the community. Its mission is to prevent and reduce youth substance use and its negative consequences and to prevent youth suicide.

There are about 180 students in the coalition between Dakota and Chippewa Valley high schools this school year.

Chippewa Valley senior TJ Laryea has been a coalition member all through high school.

“I remember in middle school, the coalition came and talked about being drug, alcohol and tobacco free, and I always wanted to be those kids,” he said. “Doing all the events in the community makes it fun.”

McGunn provided a brief overview of coalition current initiatives at its Sept. 21 meeting, the first of the school year.

“We talked about several upcoming projects,” she said.

On Oct. 23, the coalition hosts the 13th annual “Be Aware” 5k for youth suicide prevention.

The race begins at 9:30 a.m. at Dakota High School, located at 21051 21 Mile Road.

This year’s event is hybrid. Folks not joining in person may participate virtually between Oct. 23 and Oct. 29.

“It’s a fundraiser in partnership with KnowResolve, a local suicide prevention organization,” McGunn said.

The race is aimed at uniting the community in preventing youth suicide and spreading the message that there is help and hope.

The $25 registration fee includes an event T-shirt. Participants can register at beaware5k.com. Money raised will be divided between KnowResolve and the coalition for youth programming.

Laryea said the message he constantly stresses to fellow classmates is to be safe, make good choices and be a better person in the community.

“I love being able to help out and make a change within my school and community the most,” he said.

Also on Oct. 23, the coalition is participating in National DEA Prescription Drug Take Back Day, in partnership with the Clinton Township Police Department and Macomb County Sheriff’s Office.

Items can be dropped off at the Police Department, located at 37985 Groesbeck Highway in Clinton Township, and the Sheriff’s Office at 43565 Elizabeth Road in Mount Clemens.

“From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., coalition members will be taking back expired and unused medication to get it out of homes and away from the potential of abuse, especially by youth,” McGunn said.

Prior to this school year, the coalition wrapped up a social campaign on youth vaping. The goal is to launch a campaign for youth mental health this school year.

McGunn said the coalition’s mission is educating on the issues of youth drug and suicide prevention.

“We have to inform parents, school staff and the community of the issues,” she said. “Coalitions can’t be narrowly focused. These are very complex issues.”

Later this month, the coalition will participate in Red Ribbon Week, Oct. 23-31, for drug prevention.

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