BERWICK, COLUMBIA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — This week marks a campaign that spreads awareness about alcohol and drug violence prevention. 28/22 News Reporter Sydney Kostus has more about how one school in Columbia County is using red ribbons to pass along the message to its high school students.
300 chairs fill the inside of the Berwick High School’s Varsity Gym Wednesday. The seats empty, except for a single rose, symbolizing the number of lives lost every day to overdose.
“We like to take the chairs and give the visual of you know picturing a graduating class, your average graduating class, and recognizing that we’re losing one entire graduating class every single day,” said Jeremy’s Journey founder and executive director Michelle Creasy.
Scattered throughout the gym are faces of those who lost their lives. One of them was 27-year-old Jeremy Creasy, Michelle’s son.
“He was the life of the party. You know, he was dying inside but his first thought was always, ‘How can he make someone else feel better,” Michelle explained.
He passed away from a fentanyl overdose back in 2018.
Now using the memory of him and a bracelet bearing the words “be the change,” she helps others struggling with addiction through the non-profit Jeremy’s Journey.
“Really shattering that stigma and judgment and making people feel comfortable talking about it,” Michelle added.
She teamed up with Berwick’s Teen Center to hold an assembly for students, sharing the violence of drug and alcohol through the National Red Ribbon Week.
“It’s just really impactful because I’m sharing it with all my classmates. I’m showing them that it’s not just a drug issue, it’s a mental health issue,” said Berwick Teen Center President Ava Peters.
The red ribbon symbolizes awareness, advocacy, and resources available.
“It’s all about normalizing the conversation, you know not making it so taboo, making it something that you can talk about with your friends and your kids and just anybody you know?” said Berwick Teen Center Vice President Camila Amaya.
Sharing the message of hope, to see, and be the change.
In addition to the assembly, the two organizations are also holding a community awareness and remembrance event at the Berwick Area School Track at 6:00 p.m.