Project Purple proves successful

  • The Athol boys’ varsity basketball team in their Project Purple attire before their game against the Mahar Senators on Monday night in Athol. The event was held to create awareness of substance abuse. Athol Daily News/Mike Phillips

Sports Writer
Wednesday, February 14, 2018

ATHOL — Monday night’s matchup between the Athol High School and Mahar Regional High School’s boys’ and girls’ basketball teams was decorated in recognition of an event known as THP Project Purple.

The event was started 2013 in conjunction with the Athol Area YMCA to empower young people to make a difference. Monday’s event proved a success, as the entire gym was filled with parents, students and children wearing purple to support the cause.

“Project Purple is just making kids aware, making better choices about things they do — not doing drugs and alcohol,” said Athol girls’ head coach Kelly Kaczmarczyk. Kaczmarczyk also advises the school group Students Against Destructive Decisions (S.A.D.D.), which helped put together the event.

“The event is about getting it out there what Project Purple is, what it’s all about,” added Kaczmarczyk. “The gym looks great, so I’m proud of all the kids of Athol that put this together.”

The event started after former Boston Celtics player Chris Herren visited both Athol and Mahar high schools, telling his story about substance abuse. Herren has told his story to schools throughout the United States and spread a special message: “Be proud of who you are, don’t change yourself to be someone else.”

The event was created to help support this message. The Athol Area YMCA has attended school lunches encouraging students to sign a pledge to “be true to themselves, to help each other, and to be proud.”

THP Project Purple is an initiative of The Herren Project, a nonprofit foundation Herren established to help individuals and families struggling with addiction.

Project Purple’s goal is to “support (students) as they embrace a message of education and awareness. Students learn that they do not need drugs and alcohol to meet life’s challenges; that they are good enough and perfect the way they are.”

The YMCA also hosts “Project Purple Parties” during the fall and winter, which feature dancing, swimming and food in a substance-free environment.

More than 180 students have participated in such events this year, and the cause continues to accept donations.

More information is available at http://bit.ly/2Eqn9bX.

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