Mayor Linda Gorton today announced a partnership between her office and the Preventum Initiative to implement “Full Energy, No Drugs”-- FEND -- an app-based opioid education and prevention campaign for teenagers. FEND will engage youth in Fayette County by rewarding them for learning and taking action against opioids and other drugs.
“The opioid epidemic has taken the lives of many talented Lexingtonians. We have to do what we can to stop the spread of the deadly disease of opioid addiction,” Gorton said. “Teaching young people about the dangers of addiction, opioids, and prescription drugs better equips them to handle situations, helps arm them with useful tools, and hopefully, deters them from the use of illicit or non-prescribed drugs. I look forward to working with Preventum Initiative to help make our community safer.”
Dr. Jacquii Burgess, Executive Director of the Preventum Initiative, said FEND gives young people the facts about opioids, prescription drugs, and addiction so they can make informed choices about their health. “Understanding what an opioid is, why they’re so addictive, and how to recognize and respond to an opioid overdose can potentially save a life,” Burgess said. “We are thrilled to bring FEND to Lexington.”
Andrea James, Mayor Gorton’s Community Response Strategist, is helping facilitate implementation of FEND. “Where there are millions of dollars available for treatment and recovery programs, primary prevention is not as heavily funded by government grants,” said James, who is researching and developing local strategies to stop the opioid epidemic. “This partnership is key to providing a primary prevention tool to help end the cycle of addiction many families are enduring.”
Devine Carama will serve as the FEND Community Coordinator to help make the necessary connections to youth and youth program providers. “Having been involved with schools in the community, I see first-hand the effects of the opioid crisis,” Carama said. “FEND provides us a vehicle to reach kids where they are.”
FEND launches January 2020, and the program will engage youth across the city, including a competition between Lexington high schools designed to empower youth to take the messages of FEND into their local communities. In addition, the FEND app, which will be freely available in the Apple and Google Play stores, will reward youth for utilizing the app with gift vouchers, streetwear, concert tickets, athletic events and other experiences.
FEND is funded through private donations, grants and corporate sponsorships. Lexington Leadership Foundation, an organization that engages people of faith and good will, builds capacity in others, and develops joint initiatives, was instrumental in developing initial partnerships and funding to ensure FEND would be launched across the Lexington. “Lexington Leadership Foundation is excited about its partnership with the City and Preventum Initiative to roll out FEND,” said Eric Geary, Lexington Leadership Foundation Chief Executive Officer. “This is an innovative program with proven results.”
The William R. Kenan Charitable Trust is recognized as the first supporter of Lexington’s FEND campaign, lending financial support for development and support of the local platform.