Victims of opioid crisis remembered


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William K. Alcorn

alcorn@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

On Saturday, 113 pairs of shoes were displayed on the sidewalk around Wick Park.

Each pair, tagged with a name, represented someone who died of a drug overdose in Mahoning County from April 1, 2017, to March 31, 2018.

The deceased ranged in age from 1 to 71, according to the Mahoning Chapter of Ohio Change Addiction Now (OhioCAN), which organized the event. Members of the public were invited to take part in a remembrance walk Saturday during the annual “Steps of Change.”

The event began at Wick Park and featured speakers at First Unitarian Universalist Church of Youngstown, 1105 Elm St., on the east side of the park, from noon to 5 p.m.

At 12:30 p.m., Mayor Jamael Tito Brown led “Walk a Mile in My Shoes,” a lap around the park to remember victims of the opioid crisis. At 1 p.m., the names of the deceased were read and prayers were said for them and their families.

Speakers included Mahoning County Common Pleas Judge Anthony D’Apolito, Mahoning County Children Services Board Executive Director Randall Muth and keynote speaker Dr. Joseph Sitarik of Neil Kennedy Recovery Center.

Participants were invited to bring a pair of shoes or other memento representing a loved one who died of an overdose or is struggling with a substance-use disorder.

“It’s hard for courts to deal with addiction. You can’t force treatment. Soboxone is better than nothing. We don’t turn them away, but it creates complacency and they are not cured,” one speaker said.

“Addiction is a disease, but it is a choice somewhere along the way,” said Sitarik. “My job is to help an addict somewhere along the way in whatever manner,” he said.

“Something that helped me was understanding that children are hidden victims,” said Randall Muth, director of the Mahoning County Children Services.

“At children services, we believe children should be raised by their parents. We protect children by improving the family situation,” said Muth.

For information, contact OhioCAN Mahoning County coordinator Hopeanne Lovrinoff-Moran at Ohiowecan50@gmail.com or at 330-507-5313.

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