What began as a dreaming session at New Year’s emerged into a meaningful event that brought together families, neighbors, community organizations, clergy, recovering drug addicts, and city officials. This summer, we pitched our Need A Little Help campaign.
Over the past few years, we’ve witnessed a dramatic increase of drug sales and use on the streets of our neighborhood. And while Philadelphia as a whole is experiencing an opioid epidemic, we believe Kensington is bearing the brunt of it. We wanted to do something.
For us, drug use (and more recently, the prevalence of heroin overdoses) is more than a policing issue. It’s a mental health issue, a socioeconomic issue, and most importantly, a public health issue.
So we began collecting needles. We never sought them out, but instead we (safely) scooped up the ones we happened upon in day-to-day life. We collected almost 400 needles – all from our neighborhood sidewalks, streets, parks, gardens, and even in front of our own houses. Some were found with orange caps still on them, while others had the needle sticking up.
We put all the needles in jars with messages from kids in the neighborhood. They shared their stories about how drugs impact their lives. This month, we delivered our jars to city officials to raise awareness and attention and to ask for help.
City Councilwoman Maria D. Quinones-Sanchez, City Councilman David Oh, Larry Krasner the Democrat running for District Attorney, and Executive Director of Impact Services Casey O’Donnell were among the people who spoke at the rally outside city hall. They displayed their commitment and support in working together to address this desperate issue plaguing our community. The kids delivered jars full of needles to officials who were present, as well as to the Police Commissioner and the Mayor’s office.
While we know it’s going to take a lot more work to see real changes in regards to drug sales, use, abuse, and addiction across our city, we continue to be committed to working with city officials, organizations, and neighborhood leaders be part of that change. Thank you for supporting our work and being part of this story.