By Cassy Sottile
Throughout the month of September, buildings all across Kent County, including the cupola of the Casey Academic Center, will be lit up purple as part of the ‘Kent Goes Purple’ initiative.
This initiative is part of a community-wide effort to raise awareness about the opioid epidemic, and to help people who suffer from or are affected by addiction.
According to the ‘Kent Goes Purple’ website, the project is based upon THP Project Purple, an initiative of The Herren Project, a non-profit foundation established by former NBA basketball player Chris Herren, that assists individuals and families struggling with addiction.
Washington College has several substance abuse awareness requirements, through the Prevention, Education and Advocacy Center (PEAC). PEAC requires all first-year students to take online courses through the Third Millennium program about substance abuse prevention and intervention. Department of Public Safety officers also have training to administer naloxone, often sold under the brand name Narcan, which can counteract opioids, according to a WC newsletter.
“We support this initiative because any level of awareness we could generate for the community helps our students. It’s important for all of us to have an appreciation of the destructive nature of substance abuse, and for those who are addicted to misuse – there is help,” President Kurt Landgraf said in a newsletter.
This initiative was officially kicked off on Friday, Sept. 7, during which the Kent County Courthouse was illuminated with purple.
“This month, the College is going to join with Kent County and the Kent Goes Purple initiative. We’re beginning to light up the campus purple. I’m 100 percent behind this effort and so is WC,” Landgraf said.
The College is joining numerous other business and offices in town, including the Kent County Courthouse, the Chestertown Police Department, the Kent County Arts Council, and others, as partners of the initiative.
On Sunday, Sept. 9, Kent Goes Purple held a 5K Color Fun Run/Walk. Students and staff of WC could either register in the race or volunteer at one of the eight color stations to disperse colored powder for the race participants. The race, which kicked off at 8:30 a.m., began and ended in Wilmer Park, with race participants drenched in water and color powder.
Landgraf said he was glad that some WC sports teams and faculty and staff members participated in the 5K run.
“We have a lot a volunteers who will participate in that. I’m very eager to have the College deeply involved in Chestertown and Kent County, and this is an example of that,” Landgraf said.
Kent Goes Purple’s last event will be on Sept. 14. The initiative will host a pregame rally and halftime show at Kent County High School (KCHS) in Worton at 6:30 p.m. It will be a varsity football game between KCHS and Kent Island High School.
To learn more about Kent Goes Purple or to donate, visit www.kentgoespurple.org.