National Addictions Awareness Week took place in Brantford last weekend with an inspiring and heart-warming service and pancake breakfast. The event was held at the pavilion in Mohawk Park on Saturday, Nov. 10th.
Brantford Mayor Chris Friel started things off with opening remarks stating the importance of making the community aware, and echoing the theme of the whole event – that we can make a difference. We can all do our part to make our community a better place and promote healthy lifestyles.
A pancake breakfast took place next, and while people enjoyed their food they were treated to some entertainment. The Little Bear Traditional Dancers performed for about 20 minutes, followed by the Y.I.M. Cheerleaders. At the same time, there was lots of information to be gathered, as various agencies from the community were there with tables describing their services. Among them were St. Leonard’s Community Services, Brantford Native Housing and the Brant County Health Unit.
The morning ended with a presentation from Amy Beercraft of Why Not Youth Centres. Why Not has a youth drop-in centre located in downtown Brantford for teenagers, as well as four more in Brant County. Why Not provides kids a safe and fun opportunity to get off the streets. The presentation described the street mentality of these kids who are caught up in drugs, violence, and prostitution and battle every day just to make it to the next. She said that the biggest thing to take away from this week is understanding the addiction process and how community relationships can help them. If we want to help change the culture of our community and help those in need, we have to start with the kids and those that are growing up in these kinds of situations.
The kick-off was part of a whole week’s worth of events. These included a drug education workshop put on by the Brantford Police on Monday, a variety show on Thursday night, and a ‘Healthy Walk’ on Friday.
Brantford started participating in National Addictions Awareness Week three years ago when Cynthia Barton realized the need for these kinds of events in Brantford. Barton, a recovered alcoholic herself, works at Brantford Native Housing and saw the need for increasing awareness first hand. She formed a committee with other organizations form the city and they began applying for grants, receiving some from Alberta and recently one from Brantford that went towards the week’s activities.
“The committee provides us strong leadership to be the voice of this issue and bring it forward,” said Barton.
They are presently in the works of buying a street banner to help advertise the activities for next year and expand the event.