On Wednesday, March 8, 2023, Malden Overcoming Addiction (MOA) held their annual Malden Stop the Stigma Day. A whirlwind tour of schools started at the Beebe at 8:15 a.m. and ended with a visit to Malden High School that concluded at 2:15 p.m. In between, members of the MOA Board of Directors visited every public school in Malden and also made presentations at the Cheverus School and Malden Catholic High School. MOA extends deep its appreciation and thanks to all of the students and staff who participated. The increased awareness and education in schools will help us as we continue the work.
Prior to the day, the Malden High School Media program, under the guidance of teacher/advisor Jim Valente, created a video around stereotyping and stopping stigma that was shown in each of the schools before MOA staff arrived. Teen Advocates Sharing Knowledge (TASK) members from the Malden YWCA had their video shared with Malden Public Schools (MPS) employees as well. Their “Faces of Recovery” project, which was led this summer by Chris Murphy and Paul Hammersley, focused on people in recovery and their stories and was highlighted at a recent Malden School Committee meeting.
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Ligia Noriega-Murphy accompanied MOA staff to each of the public schools and spoke about the resources available throughout Malden and within the MPS. When he addressed the students, MOA President/City of Malden Addiction Recovery Resource Specialist Paul Hammersley spoke of the need for more love and kindness and not stigma. All of the schools made time for guest speaker MOA Vice President Dana Brown, who asked all students and staff for their support in ending the stigma attached to substance use disorder. MPS Communications Specialist & Building Security staffer Steve Freker was also at each school, capturing in pictures the efforts of the students and staff in making this a powerful Malden Stop the Stigma Day. Malden Police were also at each school, signifying the support they provide for MOA and the MPS throughout the year. MOA Board members Linda Cochran and Paul Bell represented the organization throughout the day.
March 8, 2023, was also proclaimed as Malden Stop the Stigma Day by Mayor Gary Christenson in a videotaped presentation held at City Hall. His proclamation highlighted the efforts of MOA since its inception nearly 10 years ago.
Using social media as a platform, community activists, first responders, citizens and nonprofit groups across Malden promoted the day with the hashtag #MaldenStopTheStigma. Many posted pictures showing the blue ribbons they wore to support the cause.
Malden Overcoming Addiction (MOA) is a community partner whose mission is to connect the community with addiction support and recovery services, remove the stigma of addiction and fight to eliminate overdose fatalities in Malden and surrounding communities. The annual MOA “Stop the Stigma Day” is about “leveraging the collective power of Malden’s community to bring attention to the stigma surrounding addiction.” The stigma associated with drug use prevents many from seeking the help, whether emotionally or physically, that they require.