Robin Aviv, a Board member of Facing Addiction with NCADD, spoke about the Young Leadership Team’s mission, the sense of community it provides its members, the importance of erasing the stigma associated with addiction and, of course, the real and growing dangers of mixing opioids and alcohol.
On Saturday night June 9th, the Young Leadership Team of Facing Addiction with NCADD hosted over 250 people for an engaging and successful educational event. The free event allowed young people the option to register for a round-robin ping-pong tournament, cleverly providing the name for the event: Smash the Stigma. Upon arrival, competitors were matched up with opponents and played four games against different players, each of whom had collected pledges for their points won. Not only did the tournament serve as a fun activity for the young people on a Saturday night it also raised over $100,000!
There were several other activities for those not playing ping-pong players; shopping vendors who donated a portion of their proceeds included Peter Elliot, Loeb Jewels, Encircle NYC, MC Bags, and Blushington offered free makeovers. Ravenous shoppers and ping-pong players were nourished with Juice Press beverages and delicious donated Tao catered food.
Midway through the event, the speaking program began. One of the founding Young Leaders, David Levine, MC’d the speaking program, introducing each speaker and providing humor between speeches. Robin Aviv, a board member of Facing Addiction with NCADD, spoke about the Young Leadership Team’s mission, the sense of community it provides its members, the importance of erasing the stigma associated with addiction and, of course, the real and growing dangers of mixing opioids and alcohol. Then, some of the young leaders spoke about what the leadership program means to them. Tyler Kaplan shared his personal journey dealing with the shame of having addiction touch his family and how the young leadership program created a safe space for him to feel comfortable, understood and unashamed. Joesph LMS Green joined us all the way from Washington DC and inspired the crowd with a profoundly personal and motivating spoken word performance. Lastly, three young leaders Jake Sandler, Addie Ezersky, and Bella Kaplan spoke about why they got involved with the group and the support, knowledge, and leadership skills with which the program has provided them.
After the speaking program and once ping-pong players completed their four round robin matches, the top eight competitors played in a single-elimination tournament. Other attendees played “beat the pro,” in which they had the opportunity to win incredible prizes such as Macklemore concert tickets, VIP Giants, Jets and Mets tickets, gift certificates and shopping experiences, restaurant certificates and tickets to a Broadway show. It was a great evening of awareness and fun!