By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
Kallup McCoy II, an EBCI tribal member from the Birdtown Community, is taking his message of recovery and hope to area schools. He recently addressed students at Swain County High School during a leadership event as well as speaking at a summit on opioids held in Buncombe County which drew students from across western North Carolina.
Locally, McCoy, founder of RezHOPE Recovery and Consulting, met with Dr. Michael Murray, Cherokee Central Schools superintendent, recently to discuss ideas of implementing positive messages about recovery into the school system.
“He’s a huge recovery ally and has a vision of building a stronger school system,” McCoy said of Dr. Murray. “Working with the staff up there, we are going to try to get this set up so we can lead this recovery movement.”
McCoy explained about their idea, “They would have prevention and recovery-geared classes in homeroom or advisory groups. I think that is very important. We would be working hand-in-hand with DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) because DARE is important. There are a lot of kids who have said no and are saying no, but we’ve got to think about the kids who have said yes. How do we get them back before they get too far gone?”
The idea is for Cherokee High School to provide information, resources, and help to those who need it. It would not be a true recovery high school as those are simply for students currently in recovery to receive an education. That model has been growing throughout the country, and according to a 2016 report from the Association of Recovery Schools, there are recovery high schools across the United States with California, Minnesota, Texas, and Massachusetts leading the way.
Dr. Murray said in a statement, “I fully endorse RezHOPE Recovery and Consulting in their efforts to change and improve lives.”
McCoy said he is going to be working with Cherokee High School for the school to host a recovery rally for schools in all of western North Carolina. “There are so many opportunities here,” he noted. “It’s important to come to the table and talk about the common goal…we’re all in the same struggle together.”
McCoy said education on recovery is critical to prevention efforts. “That just goes hand-in-hand with having coping skills so when you walk into a situation or you see something going on in your house, you know how to handle those things now. I think that’s huge, and they can even witness to their own family.”
During their leadership day on Tuesday, April 24, McCoy spoke to Swain High School students and said several have messaged him since speaking about “addiction” and “addicts” in their own family – words he prefers not to use anymore. “We’re trying to move away from those words – addict, drunk, alcoholic, junkie, felon, all of that – because we put people in a box and we keep them in chains by keeping them in that box. Unless we’re speaking positivity, it’s hard for them to come out of that box and break those chains.”
He added, “Our words have power. Our words have life and death in them. The things that we speak can make somebody or break somebody. We stay away from that stigma-related language.”