United Way Overdose Prevention Expo comes to Victoria

Naloxone training will be available to anyone interested during May 8 event

It’s well known that the province is in the midst of a epidemic, but staring up at a wall of 1,510 wooden roses — each representing a life lost to drug overdose in 2018 — really drives the point home.

The United Way Overdose Prevention Expo is taking place on May 8 between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. at the Bay Centre.

The Bloom Wall is just one of many displays that will be set up to provide information and education on the current crisis. Attendees are encouraged to take a wooden rose and post a photo to honour a loved one and to reveal a photo of a survivor underneath.

RELATED: Help is here: Overdose Prevention Guide shares what you need to know

Booths by the Victoria Youth Empowerment Society, The Foundry, Umbrella Society for Addictions & Mental Health and the Victoria Cool Aid Society will be on hand, along with many more, to answer any questions attendees may have. Naloxone training will also be available to anyone interested.

“In Victoria we have the third largest number of deaths due to drug overdoses, so anything [attendees] can learn about the dangers of opioids or how to help someone struggling or the programs and services available would be terrific,” said Jennifer Young, donor relations senior advisor for the United Way of Greater Victoria.

READ ALSO: ‘B.C. cannot wait for action’: Top doctors urges province to decriminalize illicit drugs

Attendees will hear from Victoria Police Chief Del Manak, Mark Breslauer, United Way Greater Victoria CEO, and Penny Sakamoto, publisher of Black Press Media and the 2019 Overdose Prevention Resource Guide, along with Dreanna, who’s now in the middle of her recovery with the intention of pursuing a masters degree in social work.

“Through education and prevention — we can save lives,” said Young. “This is a complex public health issue that we all need to work together on.”

According to Young, the expo is expected to attract many kinds of people as it is in the middle of the week, the middle of the day and in the middle of the city, making it accessible to everyone.

“This crisis is affecting all walks of life. It cuts across all socioeconomic classes, all ages — this is a public health emergency and I really think we all need to work together,” she said.

For more information, visit uwgv.ca/overdose-prevention-project/.

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