ALLENTOWN, Pa. - A local task force has come together to pursue a unique concept. Their goal is to start a recovery high school in the Lehigh Valley for kids who are trying to overcome addictions. They say too many kids are dying and they want to take action.
It all started when seven women got to talking. Two of them have lost their sons to addictions. And they feel if only there had been the right support available here in the Lehigh Valley, maybe their sons would be alive today.
Sharon Stauffer's son died of a heroin overdose. "As a mom who lost a child, you want to make sure their life stood for something. And that they were so much more than their disease was," says Sharon.
She remembers her little boy, the man he grew in to and the heroin overdose that took his life. She has opened her Emmaus home to the effort to create a recovery high school in the Lehigh Valley. Louise Muzio, co founder of RAFT in Emmaus, which provides outpatient treatment for adolescents, explains why a high school is needed for kids who face addictions.
"School is a place where they used, sold, they bought drugs and it's really hard for them to stay sober in that environment," says Louise.
The goal of this task force is to create a recovery high school in the Lehigh Valley, along with a separate afterschool program that will provide many resources such as social activities, support groups for adolescents and parents. The afterschool program will partner with other agencies to provide counseling and case management. The task force already has an eye on a building in Bethlehem and they hope to set up alternative peer groups for kids who are in recovery.
Donna Jacobsen's daughter Lindsay began her addiction at 19 . Lindsay is now in recovery but Donna feels compelled to educate other parents about the process.
"The one thing we learned in the seven years of being on this journey is that this is a life long and I recently said that to a parent and they looked at me and said, 'We thought our son was going to be better he's in treatment and we thought 28 days later we were going to pick him up and he'd be okay' but that's not it," says Donna
A recovery high school, like the one seen in the documentary Generation Found would provide after school programs and counseling in a supportive environment . The task force is working hard but one thing is needed.
"Number one we need grant writers.We need funds. At this point we can't move forward until we have the funds available to us," Louise says. The group is now working on obtaining non profit status.
In the meantime, the group is just trying to get the word out and get support for the next kid who struggles with addiction
Sharon says, " I said the day he (Ryan) died that I would advocate. His death would not be in vain. I would speak out and I would tell the world who Ryan really was, that he was so much more than what he died from, that he was a person who was full of life."
The group is hoping to model this recovery high school after a similar program set up in Houston Texas that Generation Found is based on.
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Allentown, PA 18102