2017-01-26 / Opinion

Islanders Committed


To the Editor:

January 2017 marks the fifth year for Project Purple celebrations Portsmouth, Middletown, Tiverton, Little Compton, Newport and Jamestown are all turning Purple for the week. So what is Project Purple?

In 2011, Chris Herren, the former NBA basketball professional with the Denver Nuggets and Boston Celtics, and now a leading advocate for substance abuse prevention and treatment, was speaking to a high school assembly when he noticed a group of students sitting together, all wearing purple shirts. He asked them what that meant and they said, “We are the sober students of this high school and each year we take a pledge to not use drugs or alcohol.” Inspired by their courage, The Herren Project launched Project Purple in 2012.

Substance abuse issues in Rhode Island have been–and are at– alarming rates. We are currently ranked third in the nation, behind Colorado and Vermont, for adolescent drug usage and among the top for underage drinking as well. Our state’s opiate abuse problem is well documented, and we see the staggering number of fatalities being attributed to overdoses that touch families of all backgrounds.

Project Purple is all about celebrating and supporting the young people who do make a conscious decision to not use alcohol and drugs, and serve as role models to their peers and all of us. In recognition of those young people, the towns and the prevention coalitions and schools in each community are organizing Project Purple events. Go to the Facebook pages of your community’s prevention coalition or contact them and see the complete list of events in each town.

All four town councils have officially declared the week of Jan. 23 as Project Purple Week and schools, public buildings, police and fire, sports teams, homes, and businesses will have Purple Everywhere to show our support for our youth making good decisions. Won’t you join us and show our kids we support your good efforts! Get Purple!

Ray D. Davis, Portsmouth,

Rebecca Elwell, Tiverton

Lauren Desantis, Newport

Lori Verderosa, Middletown

Polly Allen, Little Compton

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