HOW DO KIDS GROW KENTUCKY
An article by Ed Councill, KGK Founder/CEO
What’s in a name? I struggled to find one that best described my passion and mission for kids to succeed and realize their dreams. So many names were good choices; most, however, fell short of an encompassing context for an organization to send a challenging message to people.
So, not unexpectedly, I initially chose “Kids Grow Outdoors, Inc.”; and it was embodied in all the official government paperwork. It didn’t last much beyond my first classroom of kids in planning an environmental adventure field trip on Elkhorn Creek. I felt it cheated these kids and limited their experiential right brain learning opportunities. So, it was resolved for the better as “KidsGrowKentucky” (KGK) as a ‘dba’ for the new NPO in early 2011.
Today, KGK has proven its worth, fulfilling its destiny, and proved its name to accurately define its higher impact on the thousands of youth it inspired. However, today also has provided a new challenge to young people that was unforeseen in this new century: opioids! Although not experienced with drug addiction, I am a recovering alcoholic, which allows me to experience an illness not dissimilar to that caused by drugs.
OK, there are differences, which I acknowledge: 1) society allows alcohol consumption to a limit; but there are no limits when drugs are consumed because both drugs and the consumer are inconsistently powerful, and thus are far more risky; 2) alcohol gets a break also over drug abuse due to its being less a stigma than drug use; 3) alcohol is less often combined with a risk-enhancing accelerant than with the absurdly dangerous ones involving natural and manufactured substances; and 4) alcohol is socially accepted and publicly available through legitimate retailers, while most mind-changing drugs and their laboratory-manufactured combos are unregulated, have no standards to comply with, and, being illegal, place dangerously high risks on the user.
Getting back to the purpose of this article, I see this opioid epidemic as a most serious challenge to our youth. It has a global reach; it can and maybe has been weaponized; it provides wealth to those that distribute drugs; and it is altering young brains, as well as stealing years away from life, happiness, and fulfillment that non-users enjoy.
Yes, these facts are challenges to a new century generation that do not replace previous ones like poverty, dysfunctional families, mental and physical illness, and others more familiar to me in offering KGK programs to youth for the past 8 years. They are ‘add ons’ though, making the road to recovery even less within reach than these earlier efforts to recovery and a productive life. But I believe that we can and must do better if we are to succeed to inherit a new generation needed for our country and world to improve our lot.
Problem-solving that includes policy, programs, and resources to prevent, intervene, treat and recover victims of drugs is familiar to me and parallel those that emanate from health, loss of a family member, poverty, etc. One must understand these problems, be aware of their impact on people and intervene, provide required treatment, and oversee the time and place for recovery to do its job. They sound familiar?
On December 11 from 5:30 PM to 8 PM in the Paul Sawyier Community Room, KGK will host, along with partners Lean On Me (LOM) and Families Against Deadly Drugs (FADD), a Community Conversation for awareness to prevention, intervention, treatment, and recovery of this menace.
Because this room has a 100 person capacity, please come early to get a “seat at the table”. We have invited a speaker for each of the phases in the process (experimentation to recovery), and look forward to an interactive audience to help inform with personal stories. More to come.