HAASA plans sobriety challenge event

KYKOTSMOVI, Ariz. - Over the past few weeks, the Hopi Alliance against Substance Abuse (HAASA) has been busy planning the events for the Sober Challenge Week on the Hopi reservation from March 14-16. Some of the events planned include the kick-off event - a 2-mile and 5K Fun Run/Walk for Sobriety. During the run, flags that were used in previous Sober Challenge events to commemorate individuals taken due to drug and alcohol abuse will be displayed and carried by participants to bring attention to the need to update Ordinance 21 regarding drug and alcohol laws.

According to HAASA President Carlton Timms, "The purpose of the Sober Challenge Week is to challenge everyone both adults and youths to come together to enjoy life and have fun without being under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Another purpose is to take a stance at the grassroots level to combat legal and illegal drugs in our communities to make a statement and advocate for Hopi and Tewa people that we will not tolerate alcohol bootlegging, drug dealing, substance abuse and violence in the community."

One highlight of the event will be the Talent Show that will be held on March 16. Community members are encouraged to show off their talents for the competition. HAASA welcomes vendors to the event as well.

Another highlight of the week will be presentations made at villages by local organizations to highlight the resources available to the Hopi community. The theme for the event is, "I've got better things to do than..." and will coincide with the local schools' spring break. To get students motivated to sign sober pledges to live a sober lifestyle for the week, HAASA staff members will go to schools and hold Sober Challenge Week assemblies and an "ugly face contest" to show how ugly drugs can make you. There will also be teacher dance offs and students and teachers signing drug free pledges.

Arlene Honanie, treasurer for HAASA stated that there would also be a poster contest in addition to the fun run and talent show and that incentives would be given out for the activities. HAASA will also be selling raffle tickets for prizes. Community members are encouraged to donate their time or items for the raffle. Honanie added, "Our work for this worthy cause will change the lives of some people, even if it is one. That is what the Hopi teachings reminds us of; even if it is one, that is worth it."

Timms wanted to emphasize community efforts in addressing substance abuse and violence is one of the most influential ways of dealing with such destruction. "We need to regain control of our families and communities without being intimidated and threatened and to educate those who are struggling with whatever is their addiction. We are all here to help to heal and to become healthy once again spiritually, physically, mentally and emotionally," he said.

HAASA holds this annual event to bring attention to the need for substance abuse prevention and the availability of resources to people to get help if needed. Numerous local organizations such as Hopi Health Care Center, Community Bridges, the Hopi Vice-Chairman's Office, Hopi Cancer Support Services, HOPI Substance Abuse Prevention Center, village boards and law enforcement as well as other organizations donate their time and resources to help with this cause.

This year's event promises to be a worthwhile effort to bring attention to the seriousness of drug and alcohol abuse on the Hopi reservation. For more information call Timms at (928) 205-9593 or Vice President Eldon Kalemsa at (928) 734-1151.

For Talent Show information, call (928) 734-1151. For information on volunteering, call (928) 313-2471. To donate raffle prize items, contact Honanie at (928) 734-9358.

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