BCTC launches an organization for drug addicts

LEXINGTON, Ky. — The state of Kentucky has the second-highest death rate from substance overdoses with nearly 2,000 deaths in 2020, according to the most recent CDC data. Bluegrass Community and Technical College students are trying to help fight addiction with a new student organization providing resources to be an ally.

What do you want to know

  • Addicts & Allies for Education was founded in December 2021 at Bluegrass Community & Technical College

  • Currently, the organization has a total of 22 members

  • The organization was founded by Sylvia Kidwell and her BCTC peers

  • Kidwell is the student president of the organization

Addicts & Allies for Education, an organization founded by Sylvia Kidwell and her peers, was established in December 2021 at Bluegrass Community & Technical College on the Newtown campus as a safe space for those lost or struggling with addiction. Their first event invited Lexington students, staff and community members to a rally and commemoration march for those affected by addiction.

“You never get these big celebrations of life like you do when other people walk by,” Kidwell said.

Kidwell walks for her best friend Liz Land. It’s a long-awaited celebration for her best friend who was lost to a fentanyl overdose in 2016 in Hamilton, Ohio. She was joined by two of her five children and her husband for the remembrance trip.

Sylvia Kidwell walks with her two daughters, her husband during an Addicts & Allies for Education Walk of Remembrance. (Spectrum News 1/Diamond Palmer)

Her youngest daughter is the first person that comes to mind when she remembers her best friend. It was also after her that Kidwell named his youngest daughter.

“I named her Phoenix because she’s the only child I have that hasn’t been negatively affected by my addiction, so she’s my rebirth and she also goes by the name Liz. Her name is Phoenix Elizabeth and Liz is the one I put the lock on today,” Kidwell said.

Kidwell placed the padlock on the “Locks For Addiction” fence in Lexington, not only for her best friend, but for herself as well. She too lost the addiction five years ago when she overdosed on fentanyl. His miracle was two doses of Narcan administered by paramedics. Today, she is reminded why she founded Addicts & Allies for Education.

“As a recovering person, we’ve all lost someone and I think losing someone makes you a stronger ally because you find that passion in seeing people recover,” Kidwell said.

It’s a passion the BCTC student discovered in December 2021 with her peers by her side, including Alexandrea Shouse, who also suffered from drug addiction.

“It inspires other places, it inspires the community and community members to reach out and help heal. If I can be a part of that and help other generations in the community, that’s what I want to be a part of,” Shouse said.

Kidwell hopes the Remembrance Walks can be held on a biannual basis and expanded to more KCTCS campuses. Addicts and Education Allies said they would like to welcome more BCTC students to join them. Meetings are held every fourth Tuesday of the month at 4 p.m. in the Newtown classroom building.

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