Downtown Substance Use Awareness Event Seeks ‘Change’
Alex Hall, 03-31-2019

The flyer for the upcoming Steps of Change event.
Provided by OhioCAN
On May 18th, Downtown Cuyahoga Falls will host Steps of Change, an event meant to create greater public awareness for addiction. The event seeks to convert “pain into purpose”—which is to say, helping families affected by addiction use their tragedy to help prevent additional ones. The City of Cuyahoga Falls is partnering with Ohio's Change Addiction Now organization (OhioOCAN) for the event, with additional support from the Summit County Turning Point Program and Summit County Juvenile Court, with the Falls’ own Keys to Serenity organization participating as well.

The now fourth annual Summit County Steps of Change event—which is held each year in every county where OhioCAN has a chapter—will consist of a variety of activities and programming to help bring awareness to the opioid epidemic, among other areas of addiction, including Narcan training. Narcan is a brandname of Naloxone, which is a medication used to revive people who have overdosed on opioids. Additionally, as part of the event, organizers will set up a shoe memorial, which is a type of memorial that uses the shoes of people who have died of drug overdoses to create a striking visual image of the considerable number of drug-related deaths over the last year.

Keys to Serenity founder Brenda Ryan, who has participated in the Steps of Change event in past years and whose daughter passed away due to an opioid overdose in 2016, said of the shoe memorial, “Just to look at those shoes and imagine bodies in those shoes—it's astronomical.”

The event will also feature a variety of education tables and speakers besides basket raffles that will help raise money to support the mission of OhioCAN, which is to “to Embrace, Educate and Empower those whose lives have been impacted, directly or indirectly, by substance use,” according to the organization’s website. OhioCAN uses proceeds to specifically by delivering “desperately needed resources, tools and support to the growing number of families affected by the disease of addiction.”

The Falls Free Press sat down with Brenda Ryan for a lengthy discussion about addiction and the opiate epidemic, details about OhioCAN and Keys to Serenity, and the Steps of Change event on March 23rd. Check out the podcast below or on our YouTube page at

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