Sunny’s Story

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Sunny's Story

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Sunny’s Story, written by Ginger Katz, is one of the substance abuse books that is written for all ages. It is a compelling story for children, teenagers, parents, grandparents, teachers and more. Sunny’s Story tells of joyful times and sad times, and of how a dog’s best friend was needlessly lost to substance abuse.

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Upcoming Events

  1. Drug Prevention Presentation

    January 8, 2020 @ 2:30 pm - 3:30 pm
  2. Drug Prevention Presentation

    January 9, 2020 @ 1:30 pm - 3:30 pm

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Ginger Katz Talks About Drug Abuse Prevention

 

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The Courage to Speak® Foundation

What We Do…

Ginger and Larry Katz giving substance abuse prevention programs presentationsGinger Katz along with her husband Larry presents substance abuse prevention programs to children, parents, educators, clergy, professionals and others at many forums including state and national conferences. With a team of experts the organization developed evidence based substance abuse 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.

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How It All Started

The Courage to Speak® Foundation was founded in 1996, shortly after Ginger and Larry Katz lost their son, Ian to a drug overdose. Since then, The Courage to Speak Foundation has been dedicated to fulfilling a promise Ginger made to Ian: She promised to do everything in her power to prevent this tragedy from happening to another family through her substance abuse prevention programs.

Here’s How It All Started

 

Who We Are

The Courage to Speak® Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization providing a home, school and community approach to drug prevention through substance abuse prevention programs including presentations, community forums, evidenced based school curriculum, and parenting programs. The Foundation delivers social-emotional skill building programs to increase youth’s ability to live healthy lives and empowers parents with skills to communicate effectively with their children about the dangers of drugs. The Courage to Speak® substance abuse prevention programs were evaluated by Yale University School of Medicine and were found to produce significant positive changes in communication and behavior among students and parents.

The organization was founded in 1996 by Ginger and Larry Katz and is devoted to fulfilling a promise Ginger made to her son, Ian, who died when he was just 20 years old of a heroin and prescription drug overdose – to do everything in her power to prevent this tragedy from happening to another family. The heart of the work is the nationally renowned Courage to Speak® Presentation. Ginger Katz tells the story of how her son Ian’s losing battle with drugs began with cigarettes, beer and marijuana, and ended with his death from an overdose.

The Courage to Speak® substance abuse prevention programs have been in 40 states, 89 towns in Connecticut and 2 countries. Over a million students, parents, teachers, health professionals and others across the country have been involved in the Foundation’s programs. Developed with teams of experts in the prevention field, The Foundation’s programs include: an 8-lesson Elementary School Program (Grades 4-6) based on the book Sunny’s Story written by CEO and Founder Ginger Katz; a 16-lesson Middle School Program (Grades 7-8); a 12-lesson High School Program; and an After-School Program (4-8) and Courage to Speak-Courageous Parenting 101® a multi-session course offered in both English and Spanish, providing parents with tools to communicate effectively with their children about the dangers of drugs.

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Ian James Eaccarino

Ian James Eaccarino
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Social Emotional Learning

The foundation of the Courage to Speak® substance abuse prevention programs are teaching students essential social and emotional skills in school, that are reinforced by parents at home, and supported by community members through annual events.

Social Emotional Learning Theory is an evidence-based approach built upon teaching youth 5 core competencies: Self Awareness, Self-Management, Social Awareness, Relationship Skills and Responsible Decision Making.

According to research by the Collaborative for Social, Emotional, Learning, a meta-analysis study of over 270,000 students concluded that students who took part in programs based upon Social Emotional Learning Theory achieve the following.

  • 11 percentile-point gain in academic achievement

  • Improved classroom behavior

  • Increased ability to manage stress/depression

  • Better attitudes about themselves/school

 

Evidence Based Substance Abuse Curriculum

Our Values

Courage to Speak® Foundation is a 501(c)(3) and its mission is dedicated to “Saving Lives by Empowering Youth to be Drug-free and Encouraging Parents to Communicate Effectively with their Children about the Dangers 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.

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On September 10, 1996, I awoke to every mother’s nightmare. I found my 20– year–old son Ian dead in his bed of an accidental heroin and valium overdose.

Ian James Eaccarino was a promising college student with everything to live for. He was bright, athletic, popular, and handsome. He was dearly loved by his family and by his many friends. Drugs destroyed his life.

Ian started using tobacco and marijuana in the eighth grade. He was in denial about the problem, minimizing it as so many young people do. I was unaware that he was using drugs, thinking the changes were just adolescent behavior.

Ian became very good at disguising his drug habit. All through high school, he excelled on the baseball team and was the third highest scorer on the lacrosse team. He insisted he was okay, but he really wasn’t.

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Breaking the Code of Silence

The dark-green convertible couch where Ian died of a heroin and Valium overdose is a silent presence in the basement studio that was his bedroom. His sister Candace, who has Down Syndrome, slept there on it every Tuesday night when she visited from the group home.

Every week, she put cushions on the floor, covered them with a blanket and made a bed for her brother. “Ian comes down from the clouds,” she insisted, and sleeps there.  When I saw Candace cry, I got angry with Ian for causing her so much pain, but I knew it was the drugs. Drugs make you crazy. Drugs stole Ian from us.

Since Ian’s death, many people have asked me to speak about his struggle with his addiction and its effect on our family and friends. The Courage to Speak Foundation, Inc. was born with the mission to save lives by empowering youth to be drug free and encouraging parents to communicate effectively with their children about the dangers of drugs, breaking what I call “the conspiracy of silence” around the disease of addiction.

We were good parents. We thought we had everything taken care of. The most important thing we have learned is that secrets and silence are our common enemies. This is why we travel throughout our community, our state and our nation, inspiring youth, parents and educators to have the courage to speak…so that no other family will suffer the terrible loss that ours did.

This is my promise to Ian.

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Substance Abuse Prevention Programs

  • Inspire and empower youth to decline the offer of alcohol and other drugs
  • Encourage every person to take responsibility and join this public health endeavor to combat substance abuse and addiction
  • Partner with more school systems to implement Courage to Speak Drug Prevention Education Curricula and Courage to Speak Prevention Education for After School Programs.
  • Partner with substance abuse professionals to teach Courage to Speak – Courageous Parenting 101® in their communities nationwide and educate more parents to effectively communicate with their children about the dangers of drugs
  • Support youth to find adults they can trust and confide in
  • Offer support for family members who have lost a child to substance abuse to come together and heal
  • Create a speaker’s bureau consisting of individuals whose children lost their lives to substance abuse

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I knew there was a reason why I was given Ian and why he was taken away from me so soon. I have a story I must tell. I have a journey I must complete. Someone said Ian and I have a lot of work ahead. Together, we will accomplish what I know I have been put on this earth to do. I never thought something like this could happen to my family, but it did. Drugs cross all borders. They affect people of all ages and races and economic backgrounds. I vow I will never stop speaking out until I see changes in our world. Ian would have expected this of me and nothing less.

Ginger Katz, CEO and Founder of the Courage to Speak® Foundation

Parents and children must talk together honestly about the dangers of drugs to prevent what happened to Ian from happening to others. I’ve vowed to do everything in my power to accomplish change. Ian would have expected me to do this and nothing less.

Ginger Katz, The Courage to Speak® Foundation

Sunny’s Story, written by Ginger Katz is a drug prevention book for all ages. It is a compelling story for children, teenagers, parents, grandparents, teachers and more. Sunny’s Story tells of joyful times and sad times, and of how a dog’s best friend was needlessly lost to drug abuse.

It is narrated through the eyes, ears and mind of Sunny, the family beagle. The story tells the ups and downs of life with his young master Ian, beginning with their meeting at an animal shelter, and ending with a futile effort to ward off disaster

Sunny’s Story is read at many dinner tables across the country, in schools, libraries, as part of Courage to Speak® Drug Prevention Curricula for elementary, middle and high school students as well as a standalone book for children of all ages, parents, grandparents, teachers and professionals in the field of treatment and prevention.

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Your Donation Matters!

youth supported by those who donate to drug prevention education programs

Because of your generosity, the Courage to Speak® Foundation has been able to offer drug prevention education to hundreds of thousands of young people and their parents.

At the Courage to Speak® Foundation, we believe all youth should be empowered to live drug free and reach their full potential. We are here to help and encourage parents to communicate effectively with their children about the dangers of drugs. A student wrote a letter to a local newspaper about the Courage to Speak® Foundation Drug Prevention Programs.

We need to learn about these things before it’s too late…the most important thing this program teaches is not to be afraid…it’s better to talk out your problems than to resort to drugs.” Julie, 7th Grade, West Rocks Middle School, Norwalk CT 

We rely on your support. Please consider making a gift today so that we can continue to work with parents and educators to keep our children safe from drugs. Your gift will allow the Courage to Speak® Foundation to:

  • Build partnerships with more schools and youth-serving organizations nationwide to broaden the reach of the Courage to Speak® school-based drug prevention curricula and Courageous Parenting 101®
  • Increase the number of Courage to Speak® Presentations delivered to schools and communities throughout the country.
  • Increase the number of professionals recruited from the ranks of school counselors, health educators, law enforcement and others credentialed to teach the free parent course Courage to Speak -Courageous Parenting 101® (English and Spanish)
  • Educate and empower more parents to effectively communicate with their children about the dangers of drugs and bring Courageous Parenting 101® to more communities throughout the nation.

Your gift will support drug prevention education and services. I invite you to join us in our important work so we can continue to work with parents, educators and others to keep our children safe as the allure, access and potency of drugs surge.

With Gratitude,

Ginger Katz

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