Local organization participates in music festivals to distribute Narcan kits and educate about overdoses

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Ingela Travers-Hayward and William Perry receive a shipment of naloxone kits, also known as Narcan, for future distribution at music festivals. Credit: Courtesy of Ingela Travers-Hayward

A local nonprofit hopes to make music festivals a little safer this summer.

This must be the place is a Columbus-based nonprofit organization that focuses on raising awareness of accidental fentanyl overdoses, overdose prevention, and telling the stories of those who have used the drug, Ingela Travers-Hayward, co-director of the organization and Emmy Award-winning director-producer, mentioned. According to its website, the nonprofit aims to accomplish its mission through documentaries, reading programs and Narcan Distribution Programs at music festivals across the country.

“Our nonprofit harnesses the arts to help people along their journey of recovery, which, you know, was basically born out of a combination of our two experiences,” Travers-Hayward said. “Perry has experience in recovery counselling, I have had experience in the arts as a producer.”

William Perry, co-director of the organization, said creating an environment where survivors of drug abuse can share their stories was an important part of their decision to start the nonprofit.

“We wanted there to be a way for each individual story to be told, or at least have its own platform,” Perry said. “And we kind of started creating this idea of, ‘What if there was a platform for that? What if there was a way for people, even if they don’t yet know how to tell their story, but a platform to explore different avenues of storytelling? »

Perry said he and Travers-Hayward met in 2020 when Travers-Hayward traveled to Pickaway Correctional Facility — where Perry was housed and contracted COVID-19 — to produce a film about the virus. They realized they had a common interest in helping others and decided to work together to make This Must Be The Place a reality, Perry said.

After some research, Travers-Hayward and Perry said they found that the demographic groups most affected by accidental fentanyl overdoses were those between the ages of 18 and 45. That’s how the idea for their “Listen Up” initiative — taking their organization to music festivals and handing out free naloxone kits, which can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose — was born, he said. Travers-Hayward.

“There are all these amazing non-profits that reach people in postcodes where overdoses are extremely common – we always respect them. What we want to do is try to get Narcan into the hands of the demographic that is not being actively targeted,” Travers-Hayward said. “We thought, ‘Okay. Where are they going to be this summer? They’re going to be at music festivals.

In 2020, according to a report from the Ohio Department of Health.

Although the age group most affected by an opioid overdose is broad, college-age students still fall into the category and often attend music festivals, Travers-Hayward said. She said drug abuse and overdose issues among students hit closer to home than most people – including the students themselves – realize, which makes the opportunity to attend these festivals more difficult. all the more important to them.

“OSU students are a big part of the population that we hope to reach and that we hope to drive across, like, ‘OK, just carry things on you, just in case,’” Travers-Hayward said.

According to the non-profit organization’s website, nearly 40% of overdose deaths occur in the presence of another person, which is why the duo hopes to equip passers-by with Narcan.

This Must Be The Place will attend nine festivals this summer to distribute Narcan kits, such as WonderBus in Columbus, WonderRoad in Indianapolis and Capitol Hill Block Party in Seattle, Travers-Hayward said. The duo will have a booth at each festival and walk around handing out kits.

Perry said he faced addiction himself – which led to homelessness and stints in rehab – and his experiences inspired him to help others avoid to feel what he felt.

“I wanted to help people who might or might have been in a situation similar to mine, or help them avoid that situation altogether,” Perry said.

This Must Be The Place is affiliated with Project DAWN, which stands for Deaths Averted with Naloxone. The DAWN project is run by the Ohio Department of Health, which then gives affiliates a quantity of Narcan kits to distribute, providing supply for This Must Be The Place, Perry said.

Beyond summer festivals, Ohio State students also have access to free naloxone kits year-round through Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center, which is also in partnership with Project DAWN. According to the center websitethe drugs can be collected from its pharmacies and can be accompanied by free training on the use of the kit.

“I think their mentality is, you know, the more people we can associate with, the more Narcan we can get out into the streets, the more lives can be saved,” Perry said.

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