Drug addiction is not a character flaw, said Ginger Katz, the founder of the Courage to Speak Foundation. It’s a disease that requires professional help, just like any other.
“The problem doesn’t seem to be going away,” she said. “I’ve always said that if you don’t talk about a problem, you won’t be able to find a solution.”
Katz helped launch the Norwalk-based organization in 1996 after she lost her 20-year-old son Ian to a drug overdose. Her goal, which has now reached a national level, is to prevent her family’s tragedy from happening to others by raising awareness through educational programs as well as presentations and word of mouth.
And she isn’t just trying to teach children about the dangers of substance abuse. The Courage to Speak Foundation’s Courageous Parenting 101, which is a free, five-week program focused on education and prevention, will soon be offered to moms and dads around the country. Katz said she now has 98 instructors on board.
“I didn’t develop the curriculum,” she said. “I had experts help me because our organization is all about teamwork. I couldn’t do this all by myself.”
Katz does her part by sharing Ian’s story with communities from Rhode Island to California. She said it has always been her mission to set an example for other parents who might be afraid to address their children’s issues.
“When Ian died, doctors told us to tell people he had an aneurism or a heart attack, but I couldn’t bury my son with a lie,” she said. “I started to speak out and other people started doing it too. It gave people permission to be more comfortable with the subject.”
Want to contribute to the cause? Participate or donate to the 14th Annual Ian James Eaccarino Memorial 9-Mile Race on Saturday, July 28 at Calf Pasture Beach in Norwalk.