Huntington fire chief Jan Rader will be the keynote speaker at Bridges Out of Addiction, a free conference open to all and sponsored by the Healthy Choices, Healthy Communities (HCHC) coalition and the Tri-County Kentucky ASAP Board and hosted by Ashland Community and Technical College.
The conference is scheduled for Thursday, March 14 beginning at 9 a.m. at the Ashland campus of ACTC.
Rader’s keynote address will focus on the importance of community collaboration in addressing the drug crisis and its impacts.
The first woman to lead a professional fire department in West Virginia, Rader rose to national fame following the release of the documentary “Heroin(e)” on Netflix. The Oscar-nominated short film focused on Huntington’s drug problem and those in the community who had stepped up to try and make a difference. Rader’s efforts were prominently featured. Those efforts led to Rader being named to the TIME 100 list, which spotlights the world’s 100 most influential people.
Rader joined the Huntington Fire Department in 1994, becoming chief in 2017. Since November of 2014, Rader has served as a member of the Mayor’s Office of Drug Control Policy. The purpose of the task force is to address drug addiction in Huntington and surrounding communities through a holistic approach involving prevention, treatment, and law enforcement.
In addition to Rader, the conference will feature presentations from Dr. Ginny Sprang and Van Ingram. Sprang, the executive director of the UK Center on Trauma and Children, will discuss the issue of trauma sensitivity and its importance as a preventive factor in addressing drug addiction. Sprang’s efforts at UK enhance the health and well-being of children and their families through research, service and dissemination of information concerning child trauma.
Ingram will deliver a message concerning harm reduction approaches such as needle exchanges. Ingram serves as executive director for the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy. Ingram joined the office in November 2004, shortly after it was created with the mission of coordinating Kentucky’s substance abuse efforts in enforcement, treatment and prevention/education. Prior to his current role, Ingram served with the Maysville Kentucky Police Department for more than 23 years, the last six as the department’s chief.
Attendees to the free conference will hear from individuals who have suffered from substance abuse issues and learn how those individuals have overcome their addictions. The conference also will include panel discussions concerning family support groups, recovery programs, Casey’s Law and a special community leaders’ conversation featuring Boyd County drug court representatives Judge Scott Reese and Supervisor Ryan Mitchell, as well as alcohol and drug counselor David Meade, Ashland Police Chief Todd Kelly, and Boyd County Coroner Mark Hammond.
HCHC representative Joseph Mazzawi said the conference is being provided as an opportunity for individuals to come together to learn more, including how it is possible to change lives and communities.
“We all know how grim the statistics related to substance abuse are in rural communities such as ours,” Mazzawi said. “As a coalition, we wanted to not just provide facts, but to also offer hope and the beginnings of a path forward so that we can stem the tide and begin to take back our neighborhoods, friends and family.”
Attendance to Bridges Out of Addiction is free, but reservations are required by calling (606) 833-CARE (2273) or by visiting http://healthychoiceshealthycommunities.com. Lunch will be provided.
HCHC is comprised of members throughout the Tri-State region and open to the public. The mission statement of the organization is “To improve the health of our communities through collaboration, education, prevention and access to healthy choices.”
For more information concerning Healthy Choices, Healthy Communities, visit http://healthychoiceshealthycommunities.com
(provided by Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital)