Beth Renner is living a mother’s worst nightmare.
Her 22-year-old son Zach, a 2012 Kings High School graduate, died Aug. 1, 2016, from a drug overdose. Now she’s hoping by sharing her story, other parents might be spared the agony of losing a child to substance abuse.
The Kings Local School District parent will share her story during a unique drug awareness program offered by the district Monday, Feb. 27, at 6:30 p.m.
“I will share my family’s story of how Zach got started using drugs, how we learned of his disease, the years of treatment, and how this horrible epidemic ultimately took his life,” Renner said. “I hope that by sharing my story, I can help just one parent or one child that is struggling themselves or is suffering because someone they love is struggling. My son’s kind soul had such an impact on so many lives, and although his physical being is no longer here, to know that his life is still impacting people brings me peace as my family deals with the pain of this tremendous loss in our lives.”
Presented in partnership with the Loveland Police Department and Warren County Sheriff’s Office, the “Right Under Your Nose” adults-only program will educate parents, coaches, teachers and caregivers about potential hazards. The workshop will feature a realistic exhibit designed to resemble a teenager’s bedroom with more than 60 drug-related items.
“It’s an eye-opening presentation to parents, administrators, coaches, teachers or any adult who may be around kids. The presentation will highlight items related to drug trends and paraphernalia, on what to look out for,” said Deputy Jonathan Downs, Kings school resource officer with the Warren County Sheriff’s Office. “Many adults may see something in their kid’s room or around them that before this class they wouldn’t think anything about it. They will see items being used for drug abuse and concealment in ways they were not originally intended for.”
Topics will include substance use, violence, juvenile crime and technology. Information about drug addiction, mental health and preventative program resources will be available. This program originated with the Loveland Drug Task Force Committee.
“I hope this program will get parents that normally may not talk to their kids about drugs, to start; make teachers aware of items they may see in their classrooms that could be drug related or illegal. The goal of this presentation is to just make others aware of the dangers around them and to hopefully get our kids help before its too late,” Downs said. “More and more children are getting introduced to drugs and alcohol at an early age. Hopefully, if we are more aware of what’s around us, or ‘right under your nose,’ we can prevent something tragic down the road.”
Renner said she hopes the program makes the community more aware of the substance abuse epidemic.
“This problem knows no boundaries. I know there are people out there who think they will never be affected, but, based on what is happening every day, if they haven’t been affected yet, they will be. Somehow. If not a family member, it will be a neighbor, a co-worker, someone they sit next to in church, a friend. We all need to be in this fight. We need to come together as a community — teachers, coaches, doctors, parents — and understand that this is not just a problem for ‘you and me’ but a problem for ‘we and us,’ ” Renner said. ” I hope this program removes the awful stigma that comes along with the term ‘drug addict.’ This truly can happen to anyone, and I hope that people attending that evening will leave with compassion for those who may be suffering.”
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HOW TO GO
WHAT:“Right Under Your Nose” drug awareness program presented by the Kings Local School District, Loveland Police Department and Warren County Sheriff’s Office.
WHO: Adults-only program for parents, coaches, teachers and others who work with youth
WHERE:Kings High School Auditorium, 5500 Columbia Road, Kings Mills
WHEN: 6:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 27. Doors open at 5:45 p.m.
MORE INFO: There will be a realistic exhibit designed to resemble a teenager’s bedroom. Topics include substance use, violence, juvenile crime and technology.