Sunny’s Story By Ginger Katz
(WTNH) – Anti Drug Advocate Ginger Katz is on a mission to save lives by empowering young people to be drug free. Katz, founded “The Courage to Speak Foundation” shortly after the death of her son Ian from a drug overdose in 1996. She has also written a book called, “Sunny’s Story.” It tells of how a dog’s best friend was needlessly lost to drugs and alcohol.
Sunny’s Story is a compelling story for children, teenagers, parents, grandparents, and teachers written by Norwalk resident, Ginger Katz. Sunny’s Story tells of joyful times and sad times, and of how a dog’s best friend was needlessly lost. It is narrated through the eyes, ears and mind of Sunny, the family beagle. It is the ups and downs of Ian’s life and his struggle with addiction, beginning with their meeting at an animal shelter, and ending with a futile effort to ward off disaster.
Reason why Ginger wrote the book
To reach all age children on this topic in a gentle way through the perspective of Ian’s dog Sunny. Sunny tired to wake up Ian’s Mom, Ginger the night before Ian died. Sunny was trying to tell Ginger. Years later Ginger thought if Sunny could tell the story he would have a lot to say and people would listen.
Among the questions and comments from children
“I learned from Sunny’s Story that no matter how much someone pressures me to take drugs, I shouldn’t do it because I will have to pay a lot of consequences in the future.”
“I learned from Sunny’s Story to never try or think about using drugs, cigarettes or alcohol.”
“I hope you can come to our class because I want to ask you a few questions. I know Candi is your daughter. Also, how did Candi take Ian’s death?
“What I learned from Sunny’s Story is that you should never do drugs because you could really hurt people but mostly yourself. I also learned that when you meet new friends on the first day of HS, never hang around with them if they do drugs.”
“I learned that drugs can damage your body, for example, lung cancer.”
“I hope you can spend more time with my class.”
“Sunny’s Story was good. I didn’t want to stop reading it.”
The organization’s strategy begins with a dynamic, riveting and thought-provoking presentation by Mrs. Katz combining the intensely personal story of a family shattered by drugs with the latest information and statistics on drug abuse and prevention. Told with quiet intensity and rigorous emotional integrity in schools, places of worship, conferences and other community venues, her story calls forth in her young listeners a willingness to trust her and the advice, and information, that she and Mr. Katz offer. Complementary presentations are offered to parents, preparing them to foster the life-saving change in attitude. The presentations have curriculum available as a follow up.
Founder & CEO of The Courage to Speak Foundation and author of Sunny’s Story Visit www.couragetospeak.org
We are dedicated to………… “Saving Lives by Empowering Youth to be Drug Free”
Change in sleeping patterns
Slurred or agitated speech
Sudden or dramatic weight loss or gain
Neglected appearance/poor hygiene
Sick more frequently
Accidents or injuries
Hiding use; lying and covering up
Sense that the person will “do anything” to use again regardless of consequences
Loss of control or choice of use (drug-seeking behavior)
Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities
Hyperactive or hyper-aggressive
Missing school or work
Failure to fulfill responsibilities at school or work
Complaints from teachers or co-workers
Reports of intoxication at school or work
Furtive or secretive behavior
Avoiding eye contact
Going out every night
Change in friends or peer group
Change in clothing or appearance
Unusual smells on clothing or breath
Heavy use of over-the-counter preparations to reduce eye reddening, nasal irritation, or bad breath
Hidden stashes of alcohol
Alcohol missing from your supply
Prescription medicine missing
Disappearances for long periods of time
Secretive phone calls
Ginger Katz is a nationally recognized figure in the world of drug prevention education. She is the CEO and Founder of The Courage To Speak® Foundation, a Connecticut-based nonprofit organization with a national reach whose mission is to educate parents and students about the dangers of drugs. The organization was founded in 1996 shortly after the death of her son, Ian from a drug overdose.
The heart of her work is the renowned Courage to Speak Presentation. Ginger shows audiences how to avoid the heartache she suffered and has reached over a million people across the country telling Ian’s story and speaking honestly about how silence fed her son’s addiction. She has given over 1000 presentations to students, parents, educators, law enforcement professionals, and state and national conferences. Among the more notable are National Association of Secondary School Principals, Keynote at National Narcotic Officers Association, the National Association of Drug Court Professionals, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA) National Youth Conference.
To sustain and grow her impassioned message and help parents and children discover “the courage to speak”, Ginger worked with a team of experts and spearheaded the development of the Courage to Speak Elementary, Middle and High School Drug Prevention Curricula and Courage to Speak – Courageous Parenting 101™. These programs have been scientifically evaluated by outside entities including Yale University School of Medicine and are proven drug prevention resources that help break through the silence and denial that enables adolescent alcohol and drug use.
Among her many awards and honors, Ginger served as Honorary Chair of the National Parent Vigil in Washington DC, was the recipient of a Prevention Works Award from the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and the US Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and a Presidential Points of Light honoree. Her first published book, Sunny’s Story was featured in The New York Times and other media. She was honored by the State of Connecticut General Assembly with an Official Citation for the “meaningful and lasting impact she has had on the lives of our youth and service to the community”.
An avid sportswoman and athlete, Ginger Katz lives with her husband Larry and daughter Candi in Norwalk, Connecticut.