How does the public grasp the scope of an epidemic, and how can the impact be felt? The Names Project was founded by Cleve Jones in 1985 to bring awareness to the degree in which the AIDS crisis was scourging the gay community, and to the number of people who had already died of AIDS. The AIDS Memorial Quilt continues to grow to this day.
In 1998, a group of students at Tennessee’s Whitwell Middle School began studying World War II and the Holocaust. Impacted tremendously by the enormity of lives lost in the Holocaust, they decided to create a project that visibly and tangibly demonstrated the extreme loss of life. Thus began the Paper Clips Project.
In response to the extreme opioid epidemic in the country, the National Safety Council recently created a memorial wall to honor the 22,000 people who die each year from an opioid overdose. The exhibit is called Prescribed to Death: A Memorial to the Victims of the Opioid Crisis. The memorial includes 22,000 pills. Each pill is engraved with the face of someone who suffered a fatal opioid overdose. An onsite machine also creates a newly-engraved pill every 24 minutes to highlight the frequency a fatal overdoses. The memorial was first launched in Chicago and will travel across the country. There is hope, Prescribed to Death, will help reduce the harmful stigma persons with an opioid addiction experience.
For the 2008 State of the Union address, democrats wore the purple ribbons to call attention to Trump to do more to combat the opioid epidemic. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen’s office led the effort, handing out the ribbons to other lawmakers. Her state of New Hampshire has been one of the hardest hit by the opioid epidemic.
According to a study conducted by the National Safety Council, one in four Americans have been directly impacted by the opioid crisis. 40 percent of people still do not consider opioids to be a threat to their family. In an attempt to end this persistent indifference, the Council released a powerful short film that brings opioid users face to face with those who have been personally impacted by the worst drug crisis in recorded U.S. history. The film is called Facing an Everyday Killer. It includes footage of Prescribed to Death: A Memorial to the Victims of the Opioid Crisis.
“We must remember that one determined person can make a significant difference, and that a small group of determined people can change the course of history.”—Sonia Johnson
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