January 23-27 marks the 5th year for Project Purple Celebrations and this year Portsmouth, Middletown, Tiverton , Little Compton ,Newport and Jamestown are ALL turning Purple for the week.  So what is Project Purple- read on?
In 2011 Chris Herren, the former NBA basketball professional with the Denver Nuggets and Boston Celtics, and now a leading advocate for substance abuse prevention and treatment, was speaking to a high school assembly when he noticed a group of students sitting together all wearing purple shirts. He asked them what that meant and they said, “We are the sober students of this high school and each year we take a pledge to not use drugs or alcohol.” Inspired by those students courage, The Herren Project launched Project Purple in 2012.

Substance abuse issues in Rhode Island have been and are at alarming rates and we are currently ranked second in the nation, behind Colorado and Vermont, for adolescent drug usage and amongst the top for underage drinking as well. Our state’s opiate abuse problem is well documented and we see the staggering number of fatalities being attributed to overdoses that touches families of all backgrounds.

Project Purple is all about celebrating and supporting the young people who do make a conscious decision to NOT use alcohol and drugs and serve as role models to their peers and all of us. It is in recognition of those young people that the towns with the coordination of the Prevention Coalitions and schools in each community that the following events are being highlighted. We would ask that you go to the Facebook pages of your community’s Prevention Coalition or contact them and see the complete list of events in each town.

The following lists just some of the highlights in each town:

Portsmouth: Sat. Jan.21, The Portsmouth Prevention Coalition will be at Clements’ Market from 10-2 giving away various Project Purple objects such as purple ribbons, lights, bows, and asking residents to put a bow or ribbon on their front door or mailbox to show support, a donation is appreciated if possible. Post your decorations photo on the PPC Facebook page and you could win a free Project Purple T-Shirt.
Friday Jan. 27, is the Patriots Committed Third Annual Dodge Ball Tournament at Portsmouth High School  New Gym at 5:30 PM where various community and youth teams battle it out to go one to one with the winning team and battling while our First responders teams, Police & Fire Departments , take their annual grudge match to the court one more time! You don’t want to miss that!

St. Barnabas Church is also featuring many events all week long.
Middletown :  will “Light the Town  Purple” from the Town Hall, Police and Fire, Department of Public Works , neighborhood signs and decorations for a fundraiser for their Islanders Committed youth group and businesses  joining in as well
There will be “ I AM” activity at MHS and Gaudet with Islanders Committed-cross aged activities and at Forest Avenue Awards Night on Feb. 2

Tiverton: Show your support in Tiverton by taking a photo of your decorated door or mail box and posting it on The Tiverton Prevention Coalition Facebook or e-mailing the coordinator and you could win a Super Bowl Party Platter for the Super Bowl but do so by 5PM Jan. 27!
Also Tiverton is sponsoring a Flamingoing Project Purple event where you can “Flamingo” a fellow friend’s lawn for this good cause and even purchase flamingo insurance – just contact the coalition!

Little Compton:  LC thought up the Flamingoing for Project Purple the same holds true there- just contact the coalition and you too could make your friend’s day with a fresh flock of flamingo’s on THEIR lawn while insuring you don’t get Flamingoed!
LC residents  are asked to decorate PURPLE their homes, mailboxes and send a photo to the LC Prevention coalition and win a Super Bowl Platter as well!

Newport:  They will be celebrating from Jan.30-Feb,3 due to a school scheduling issue but will be doing substance abuse prevention messages in the school announcements and decorating the halls with messages written by the students as well as having a school-wide assembly at the Rogers on 2/2 with Mr. Dan Converse giving a father’s side of the story
Jamestown  is participating but did not supply us with details

All four town councils have declared the week Jan.25-29, officially Project Purple Week and schools, public buildings, police and fire , sports teams, homes businesses- Purple Everywhere to show our support for our youth making good decisions. Won’t you join us and show our kids we support your GOOD efforts! Get Purple!

Ray D. Davis, Portsmouth                           Rebecca Elwell, Tiverton                   Lauren Desantis, Newport

rdavisprevention@cox.net      elwell1994@aol.com                             l.desantis@cox.net

Lori Verderosa, Middletown                                  Polly Allen, Little Compton

msaptf@middletownri.com             bean4444@aol.com

Ryan Belmore is the Owner and Publisher of What's Up Newp. He was born and raised in Rhode Island and graduated from Coventry High School. He serves as Vice President of Fort Adams Trust and serves on the Board of Directors for Potter League for Animals. Ryan also is currently the Senior Editor - North America for Mountain News, publisher of OnTheSnow. Ryan is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers and North American Snowsports Journalists Association (NASJA).