The City of Seaford is planning to go purple, and if Sussex County Health Coalition Executive Director Peggy Geisler can help it, so will Sussex County and then the entire state of Delaware.
“This is a soft launch. We plan to do this over three months,” she said to a group of about 100 people who attended the coalition's quarterly meeting April 19.
The coalition is ready to launch a Drug Free Awareness Campaign in Seaford with help from The Herren Project Purple Initiative, created by former NBA player Chris Herren, who has fought his own battle of drug addiction.
Locally, Herren has taken his purple initiative to Easton, Md., where he spoke with middle school students in early April. The town embraced the initiative by incorporating the color purple in signs, on public buildings and even on police cars.
Now it's Seaford's turn.
Rep. Dan Short, R-Seaford, said raising awareness with youth is important, and the timing couldn't be better with student-led outcry over gun and school safety.
“We're looking to reach the schools, and it will take a pinpoint effort to get this done,” he said.
Short said Seaford is planning to launch its anti-drug purple initiative in September, and he looks forward to the former NBA player connecting with local students.
“We want to raise awareness with youth,” he said.
Addressing the coalition meeting, Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long said there is still much work to be done to fight the heroin epidemic in Delaware.
“We lose so many precious individuals. Every number to me is not a number. As a nurse and a mom, that is a person, that is a dream lost, that is a person suffering,” she said.
Hall-Long said legislation has helped fight the heroin and drug epidemic in Delaware. Six years ago, she proposed a bill to provide the overdose-reversal agent Narcan to emergency responders, and another bill, known as Brock's law, has placed heavier penalties on drug dealers who add Fentanyl to their drugs. Hall-Long was the Senate sponsor of the bill; it was signed into law in 2016.
Hall-Long said she would like more help for children who have been traumatized by seeing their parents or others in the throes of addiction.
“Let's reach out to get earlier intervention to keep those children out of trauma,” she said.