The Courage to Speak® Foundation is a 501(c)(3) and its mission is dedicated to " Saving lives by educating and empowering youth to be drug free and encouraging parents to talk to their children about the danger of drugs."
Ginger Katz along with her husband Larry presents to children, parents, educators, clergy, professionals and others at many forums including state and national conferences. With a team of experts the organization developed drug prevention education curriculum evaluated and recommended by Yale School of Medicine. Many facilitators and teachers across the country implement the Courage to Speak Foundation student curriculum in elementary, middle and high schools as well as a multi-session program for parents called Courage to Speak -Courageous Parenting 101® which give parent tools to keep their children safe.
The Courage to Speak Foundation's office is located at 71 East Ave, Suite M, Norwalk CT with 4 staff and a host of volunteers and college interns Phone 203-831-9700.
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CONSPIRACY OF SILENCE
The dark-green convertible couch where twenty-year-old Ian Eaccarino died of a heroin overdose sixteen years ago is a silent presence in the basement studio that was his bedroom. His sister Candace, who has Down Syndrome, sleeps on it every Tuesday night when she visits from the group home where she lives in Fairfield, CT. Every week, she puts its cushions on the floor, covers them with a blanket and makes a bed for her brother. "Ian comes down from the clouds," she insists, "and sleeps there."
At the other end of the room, Ian's mother Ginger Katz has established headquarters for The Courage to Speak® Foundation, Inc., a project that took shape in the dark months following her son's death. "When I see Candace cry, I get angry with Ian for causing her so much pain," she says softly, "but I know it was the drugs. Drugs make you crazy. Drugs stole Ian from us."
Ginger Katz is determined to break what she calls "the conspiracy of silence" around the disease of teen drug abuse and addiction. Speaking as a parent who has experienced the ultimate loss, she has been telling Ian's story all over the country, sharing insights with parents about the signs of drug abuse and educating young people ranging from elementary school through college.
The Courage to Speak Foundation received a grant from the federal government to build capacity and to evaluate its elementary, middle and high school Curriculum and the Courage to Speak - Courageous Parenting 101®with positive outcomes.
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Drug Abuse Prevention for Teens
The Courage To Speak® Foundation Inc., is a nonprofit organization based in Norwalk, CT, whose mission is "to save lives by empowering youth to be drug free and encouraging parents to communicate effectively with their children about the dangers of drugs." Ginger and Larry Katz founded the organization in 1996, just months after her 20 year old son Ian James Eaccarino died of an accidental drug overdose. Ginger pledged that she would do all she could to help prevent such a tragedy from befalling another family. Since then, Ms. Katz has become a nationally renowned speaker and has given over 1000 drug prevention presentations to students, parents, educators, law enforcement and state/national conferences. Reaching hundreds of thousands of people nationwide, she shares the story of her son Ian's losing battle with drugs, helping parents and educators keep our children safe.
Drug Abuse Prevention Book
Ms. Katz has authored a book called Sunny's Story. The book tells the story of Ian's life from the ears, eyes and mind of Sunny, the family beagle. It's about the ups and downs of life with his young master, beginning their meeting at the animal shelter, and ending with a futile effort to ward off disaster. The book is read in dinner tables and classrooms across the country by children of all ages, parents, grandparents, teachers, and others.
The Courage To Speak® Foundation has worked with experts in the prevention field to develop The Courage to Speak® Drug Prevention Curriculum for Elementary, Middle, and High Schools. The Curriculum - including teacher training and classroom activities - provides crucial, ongoing follow-up to The Courage to Speak® Foundation's live presentation and video. The Foundation also provides a program for parents called The Courage to Speak Foundation- Courageous Parenting 101® . (See press release) A four session program, each one and a half hours long, are taught by professionals to disseminate information about topics such as: Drug Trends in America, How to find out if your child is using drugs, What to do if you child is using drugs, How to access help, Helping kids handle stress, Taking a better look at MTV, MySpace, FaceBook, and more.
Based on her own experience and research, Ms. Katz realized that merely providing information about drug use and its consequences could not surmount the obstacles of peer pressure, cynicism, ignorance, and apathy that our young people face every day. To truly change their attitude and behavior, The Courage To Speak® Foundation would have to reach them in a more direct and personal way, encourage their families to support them in rejecting drug use, and engage the community in this battle by increasing its awareness.
Drug Abuse Prevention Presentation
Therefore, the organization's strategy begins with a dynamic, riveting, and thought-provoking presentation by Ms. Katz combining the intensely personal story of a family shattered by drugs with the latest information and statistics on substance abuse and prevention. Told with quiet intensity and rigorous emotional integrity in schools, places of worship, conferences and other community venues, her story calls forth in her young listeners a willingness to trust her and the advice, and information, that she and Mr. Katz offer. Presentations are offered to parents, preparing them to foster the life-saving change in attitude. The presentations have curriculum available as a follow up.
Drug Abuse Prevention Curricula
The Courage To Speak® Foundation has formed alliances and collaborates with state and national organizations such as the Department of Addiction Services in CT, Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America, the US Dept of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration, Pride International, National Association of Secondary School Principals, The National Association of Independent Schools, the DEA, Weed and Seed, Alanon, ONDCP - Office of National Drug Control Policy, Mid-Fairfield Substance Abuse Coalition, National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), Community Prevention Task Force of Norwalk, CT, the Lower Fairfield County Regional Action Counsil, The Norwalk Police Department, and other local and state groups.
Our additional programs show parents and communities how to support their children to be drug free.
As part of the The Courage To Speak® Foundation's mission to reach parents, the organization has appeared on many media outlets, such as TV, Radio, Newspaper and other. Some examples are the Madison Square Garden Network Sports Desk, NBC, NBA Inside Stuff, News Channel 12, Cablevision of CT, Time Warner Cable TV, Connecticut News Channel 8, CPTV, MSNBC and Life Time for Women. Print coverage includes The New York Times, NY Daily News, Hartford Courant, CT Post, New Haven Register, the Norwalk Hour, the Stamford Advocate and other prominent media outlets. See press articles.
Ian James Eaccarino was the much-loved son of Ginger Katz and Louis Eaccarino, step-son of Larry Katz, brother of Candace Eaccarino and dear friend to the many people he made part of his short, but vibrant life. As a kid, he liked to cuddle up on the couch with his mom, sister and step-dad. At age eight, he was captain of the soccer team. Two years later, he earned a black belt in karate and at eleven, came in second to a fourteen-year-old in a competition at Madison Square Garden. As a 5th grader, he was voted most popular boy of his class.
In high school, Ian played baseball, basketball and lacrosse. The semester before he died, he was an honor student at the University of Hartford. In September of 1996, Ian died of a heroin overdose at the age of 20 years old.
Shortly after his death, Ginger Katz founded The Courage to Speak Foundation, Inc. Speaking as a parent who has experienced a loss every parent fears, Ginger inspires people to step forward, assess their situation, and address their problems. Rather than speaking from a place of sadness, however, Ginger speaks words of hope and promise that the courage to speak - about fears, drug dependence, or any troubling issue - presents an ideal opportunity for healing. Ginger chose the sunflower as a logo because the sunflower looks up to heaven.
Through Ginger's story, students and parents begin to recognize the telltale signs of alcohol and other drug use. She also describes the veils behind which those signs hide: anger, denial, fear, pain and deception.