NORWALK, Conn. — An annual drug prevention night led by a Norwalk mother whose son died from an overdose is returning to Norwalk on Monday, March 13.
Residents of Norwalk and beyond are invited to the 13th annual Courage to Speak Empowering Youth to Be Drug-Free Family Night at West Rocks Middle School.
The initiative was started by Ginger Katz in 1996 soon after the death of her son Ian, 21, from an accidental overdose of heroin and prescription drugs.
"It takes a community to help kids stay drug-free," said Katz, founder and CEO of the Courage to Speak.
Community members, students, parents, educators, government and school officials, and local business leaders are encouraged to attend and support the commitment to keep kids safe from drugs and risky behaviors.
Katz is also the author of "Sunny's Story," a drug prevention story that helps families talk openly about the dangers of drugs.
Each year 900 Norwalk students in grades four to seven complete a drug prevention education curricula begun by the foundation. The program is taught in other schools in Connecticut and around the county.
Some of the children will speak at a podium Monday night.
"Their stories are incredible. The children are incredible. They learn so much about drug prevention in the program. Their parents will hear from them for the first time at this event. At our last family night, one boy came up to me to read his letter. He was so sweet," Katz said.
Politicians and community leaders will also talk about drug prevention. Katz said the family nights draw many from Norwalk and beyond.
Her son would have turned 41 this year. She said he would like that his death helped to prevent other deaths. She's told his story thousands of times and will share it again Monday night.
"I'm No. 1 when you Google drug prevention speaker," she said.
Since 2002, nearly 19,000 kids in seven Norwalk schools have learned the curricula of her foundation.
"It was developed by experts and the foundation, and some of the principals in the Norwalk School system," she said.
The evening's emcee will be state Sen. Bob Duff, and speakers include Peter Corbett, Chairman of the Board of Directors, Courage to Speak Foundation; Norwalk Chief of Police Thomas Kulhawik; Mayor Harry Rilling, and Norwalk Public Schools Chief of Schools Operations Frank Costanzo.
Monday's program will begin at 5:30 p.m. with networking and dinner, followed by the program at 6:30 p.m. in the auditorium at the school, 81 West Rocks Road, Norwalk. There is a snow date of Tuesday, March 14.
To become a sponsor or volunteer for Courage to Speak, call 877-431-3295 or email Ginger Katz at firstname.lastname@example.org .