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Join the Journey wellness fair offers drug, health education

DANIEL CLIFTON • PICAYUNE EDITOR

BURNET — Janet Christiansen made a pledge to herself more than three years ago that she would do everything in her power to prevent another mother — another family — from going through what she and her family experienced after the 2011 death of her 21-year-old son, Caleb Christiansen.

The second annual Join the Journey Safe & Drug-Free Wellness Fair on April 30 at R.J. Richey Elementary School is part of that pledge.

“After Caleb’s death, I started meeting with community members and leaders to talk about how we could fight drug use in our community,” she said. ”(Burnet Superintendent) Keith McBurnett was one of the first to say, ‘Let’s do something.’”

Caleb Christiansen died from methadone toxicity after ingesting the prescription drug. However, he didn’t have a prescription for or even need the drug. Another man supplied him with the drug that eventually led to his death. After Caleb’s death, Janet Christiansen decided she wanted to do something to help other families and the community understand the dangers of drug use and abuse.

With the support of McBurnett and other community leaders, she helped create Join the Journey, a drug awareness and education program. Part of the program’s outreach includes the annual wellness fair.

The fair is not just about drugs and drug awareness.

“Part of the theme for Join the Journey and the wellness fair comes from a song I wrote after Caleb’s death called ‘Clear Mind, Pure Body and Beautiful Soul.’” Christiansen said. “There are so many things we can do for our health. And so at the fair, there will be a lot of things people can learn about when it comes to wellness.”

Activities include car-seat checks, cancer detection and prevention, dental and eye care education, fitness challenges, obstacle courses and even a healthy snack bar. Organizers are giving away an iPad Mini, a Fitbit and other prizes.

“There will definitely be something for everybody; it’s not just about drugs,” Christiansen said.

But the drug awareness message definitely will be a part of the two-hour fair.

“We’ll have sessions where people will share their testimony about their struggles with drugs and how they came through,” Christiansen said. “There will be sessions geared to parents and sessions geared to students.”

The idea, she pointed out, is to help community members become aware of the scourge of drugs abuse and its signs.

“We want the community to realize that drugs don’t just affect a few teenagers and their families,” Christiansen said. “It affects people of all ages and the entire community.”

Drug education isn’t just for people who know someone with a drug issue but for all residents so they can learn how to detect the issues that typically lead to drug abuse and also where to find support if it becomes a problem.

“My family and my life will never be the same again,” Christiansen said. “I just don’t want another family to go through that.”

The fair is 5-7 p.m. at R.J. Richey Elementary, 500 E. Graves St. Call (512) 756-2124 for more information.

daniel@thepicayune.com

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