Council on Chemical Abuse hosts Prevention Celebration in Recognition of National Prevention Week

On Wednesday, May 15, the Council on Chemical Abuse recognized National Prevention Week with a special Prevention Celebration that included an awards presentation, tours of the Prevention Department offices, games and prizes. About 60 people attended the event, which took place at the RISE Recovery Center in Reading.

Recognition for Excellence Awards were presented to seven local individuals who were honored for their work in the field of substance use prevention. Those included:

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Heather Boyer – Reading Recreation Commission Program Director. Anita Miller – Community Prevention Partnership Program Coordinator for Project Peace and the Northeast Community Springboard Coalition. Ericka Garcia – Wilson School District Elementary Social Worker. First Sgt Joseph Cipko – Reading School District JROTC. Alycia Lenhart – Exeter School District K-12 Student Support Coordinator. Mike Reese – COCA consultant. Logan Long – COCA intern 2024 Graduate of Alvernia University.

In addition, the Pat Ganter Scholarship was presented to Katelynn Humbles, who will graduate from Conrad Weiser High School in June. Humbles was the winner of the $5,000 scholarship awarded annually by COCA to a Berks County teen pursuing a career related to substance use prevention, treatment or recovery. Humbles is planning to attend Kutztown University to study art education.

The awards were an opportunity to recognize the valuable work of Prevention professionals who teach youth and the community the facts about substances and the skills to lead healthy, substance-free lives.

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“While there is sadness and heartbreak in this disease of addiction there is also hope and joy,” said Alicia Kline, Prevention Program Supervisor for the Council on Chemical Abuse. “There is hope in recovery and there is hope in all we do in Prevention. Prevention provides critical skills youth and families need to avoid the devastation of addiction, and that is beautiful, and that is important!”

Following the award presentation, the COCA Prevention Department opened their doors to attendees. Last summer, the Prevention Department moved to its current office, located next to the RISE Recovery Center at 702 N. 8th St. in Reading.

Participants were able to see the new offices and also had an opportunity to participate in several prevention-themed activities. The offered a glimpse into the fun, engaging methods prevention specialists use to teach youth the skills to avoid substances and cope with stress. included making a Better Day Box, testing out a Playdoh brain game, and having photos taken with COCA mascot Courage the Lion.

The event was catered by Isaac Gonzalez Perez, who spoke briefly after the awards presentation about how his participation in a prevention program run by COCA helped change his life when he was a teen.

National Prevention Week 2024 runs from May 12-18. It is a time to raise awareness about efforts to prevent substance misuse and promote mental health.

The Council on Chemical Abuse, known as COCA, provides Berks County, PA with leadership and assistance in preventing substance use and promoting treatment and recovery from addiction. Established as a non-profit in 1971, COCA is designated by the County Commissioners as the Single County Authority (SCA) for Berks County. COCA serves as the coordinating agency for publicly supported drug and alcohol programming, and is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors reflective of the local community. Learn more at cocaberks.org.

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Berks Weekly
Berks Weekly
Berks Weekly is an independent and locally owned digital newspaper covering the City of Reading and Berks County. Subscribe today: berksweekly.com/subscribe
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