In an extraordinary series of forums over the next week and a half, local citizens will get a chance to share ideas for how to best tackle an opioid crisis that killed more than 1,000 people in the region in both 2016 and 2017.
The first session will take place at 2 p.m. today at the main library in downtown Dayton. Other sessions are scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Monday in Middletown; 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in East Cincinnati; 1 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 18, in Wilmington; and 6:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 19, in Washington Court House.
Some of the sessions, including the one in Dayton, are full, though waiting lists are available. And anyone can attend a session with open spots. Those wishing to attend should RSVP online at Eventbrite.com and search for Your Voice Ohio. The sessions are free.
Your Voice Ohio is a collaboration of more than 30 Ohio news organizations, including the Dayton Daily News, Journal-News and Springfield News-Sun. The organizations first combined resources on issue-oriented coverage during the 2016 presidential election. The effort included listening sessions with voters and public opinion polling that helped the organizations focus their coverage on the issues that matter most to Ohioans.
After the election, the group decided to continue collaborating on issues that touch all Ohioans. Opioids was an obvious choice.
Trends indicate more than 4,000 Ohioans could die this year due to drug-related overdoses. That’s more people in one year in one state than died of terrorism attacks in the entire country in the past 20 years.
Many people are making heroic efforts in combating the opioid crisis, and it has the attention of lawmakers from Washington to tiny villages throughout Ohio. The forums are designed to add to those conversations, not replace them.
Each forum will begin with the assumption that communities are best equipped to identify and act on effective solutions. The format includes small-group discussions in which participants can remain anonymous if they wish. The goal is to involve the community in a conversation so that more people understand what many experience on a daily basis. And to involve more people in fighting to bring the crisis under control.
The opioid crisis has been a story of devastation. The goal here is help change the conversation to one of action and perhaps hope.