A mobile drug education classroom and a recovery “Hope Wall” will be unveiled by Operation UNITE during a ceremony to be held Friday, August 16, in Manchester.

Helping to announce the major education and treatment initiatives will be U.S. Fifth District Congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers, Kentucky First Lady Jane Beshear, Eastern Kentucky University President Dr. Michael T. Benson, Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers and People Advocating People (PAR) CEO Mike Barry.

The program, which is free and open to the public, begins at 1 p.m. at EKU’s Manchester Campus, 50 University Drive.

“In UNITE’s 10th year anniversary, it’s time to celebrate the lives that have been saved through treatment and recovery efforts by unveiling stories of hope and encouragement for those still battling addiction. And as a leader in the war on the drugs, I applaud UNITE’s effort to expand its educational outreach state-wide, offering a new tool that takes UNITE on road,” Rogers stated. “Together, we are making a difference!”

“From its inception, UNITE has operated under the belief that the most effective way to deal with our drug problem is to focus equally on law enforcement, treatment and education,” said Dan Smoot, UNITE president/CEO. “This model has been cited for its effectiveness on the national level.”

Taking a holistic approach to substance abuse among youth, who are often the unintended victims of drug use, is important, stated Beshear, who sits on the board for Recovery Kentucky, which provides housing and recovery services at centers across the state.

“Our efforts to battle substance abuse and misuse in Kentucky need to be as varied and wide-ranging as the problems and causes of drug abuse itself,” Beshear noted. “Recovery Kentucky and UNITE are modern programs that use peer and community support, treatment and education as tools to aid in prevention and help victims successfully get clean and stay clean. UNITE’s mobile classroom is a unique way to teach our children real-life instances of drug mistreatment, and we hope that it will go toward preventing future abuse and misuse.”

“This state-of-the-art mobile classroom is one-of-a-kind,” Smoot noted. “Education about substance abuse and prevention is so important, especially at an early age. Just think if we never had to worry about making arrests or providing treatment.”

UNITE’s “On The Move” education trailer will feature an interactive drug prevention program tailored to elementary, middle and high school students. In addition, youth will participate in three interactive training modules that focus on the consequences of distraction and impairment from alcohol and other drugs.

Use of the mobile education classroom will begin this September in Rockcastle and Pike counties.

Another component of the “On The Move” initiative will be development of two community education kits for use by anti-drug community groups and organizations. The first kit, “Life With A Record,” will be released later this fall.

The trailer is being funded through a $150,000 per year Rural Health Outreach grant awarded through the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration.

The “Hope Wall” will honor 150 individuals who have been recovering from an addiction for at least one year.

“At UNITE’s first two National Rx Drug Abuse Summits we were struck by the power and emotion of a wall featuring images of individuals who had lost their lives because of drugs,” Smoot said. “It is important to never forget the tragic human toll of addiction, but it is equally important to offer a message of hope to those currently caught in the grips of addiction.”

“Sobriety is worth celebrating,” Smoot continued. “This wall will provide encouragement for those battling this horrible disease to seek help and realize there is a hope for a brighter future.”

The movable wall will travel to various events throughout southern and eastern Kentucky. Additional photos of those in recovery will be periodically rotated.

For more information about the “Hope Wall” contact UNITE Treatment Director Amy Yates at 606-330-1400 or ayates@centertech.com.