Open the Dialogue series kicks off Thursday, March 8 at The Gathering Place


CLARKS SUMMIT — “Facing the Stigma and the Reality of Children’s Substance Abuse,” the first in a four-part awareness series titled “Open the Dialogue,” will be presented from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday, March 8 at The Gathering Place, 304 S. State Street.

Speakers for this first session include Scott Constantini, of The Wright Center, who will discuss shattering the stigma surrounding the drug epidemic; Todd Williams, who will will share his journey to becoming drug free in the face of stigma; Joe Kane, of Clearbrook Treatment Centers, who will explain the dynamics of substance misuse on children’s brain development and its connection to addiction; and Jeffrey Thomas, Voluntary Action Center, who will break down the local trends in substance misuse – where children are getting substances and how they are using substances, as well as discuss the warning signs.

Open the Dialogue’s mission is to facilitate a conversation among caretakers with children in grades 5-12 and beyond. The goal of the series is to help the local communities begin to eliminate the stigma that is the hallmark of this national emergency. Perceived stigma is a major barrier to seeking help. Open the Dialogue’s speakers will also be prepared to provide information and resources to families in need.

Admission to the series is free, and anyone attending is asked to register for tickets on The Gathering Place Facebook page or by emailing Attendees will be entered to win a large screen TV and a Safer Lock Box for medications.