BCTC students offer hope, inspiration to those impacted by addiction
Addicts and Allies offers open perspective to others
LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ/BCTC Public Relations)– Bluegrass Community and Technical College’s (BCTC) newest student organization, Addicts and Allies for Education (AAE), is already making a difference at the
college and in the community.
AAE defines itself as “a judgement-free student organization where people impacted by addiction can come together to support one another, raise awareness and give back.” Anyone who struggles with or has lost loved ones to addiction is welcome.
Last fall, Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) Honor Society’s service project led by Tiffany Malicote entailed promoting mental health on campus. One sponsored event offered training by the health department on how to assist someone suffering from a drug overdose. At this event, BCTC student leader Sylvia Kidwell spoke about her own struggles with addiction and her desire to help others through a student organization at BCTC. The meeting inspired other students, staff and faculty to join Kidwell, Denice Leibouvitz and Alexandrea Shouse in forming AAE.
Kidwell is president of AAE, vice president of the Sexuality and Gender Alliance, Georgetown Campus PTK liaison and campus senator, mother, student and self-proclaimed addict. She has experienced loss due to her addiction, but this fuels a passion for helping others find their path out through education like she did. She says her mission and story is about “taking control back and using her pain to be a light for people like her.”
Leibouvitz, too, has struggled with addiction but found her “tribe” at BCTC. She is vice president of AAE, a PTK member and mother. Being the mom she wanted to be for her daughter and son, “a desire for change from living the same day over and over,” and success in college motivated her to become the leader she is today.
Shouse is treasurer of AAE, elected student representative for the KCTCS Board of Regents, vice president of B-Caus and Students for Peace and Earth Justice, and student government senator. She is a PTK member, mother and a self-proclaimed addict. She has lost several close to her to addiction and agrees with Kidwell that education is the key to permanent change. Her hope is “by bringing awareness to the overwhelming epidemic of drug addiction we can help save lives.”
Malicote, a PTK member and AAE ally who does not have an addition herself but has family members who have been impacted, said she “jumped on this opportunity because addiction has affected my life in so many ways.” She is committed to offer support to those who have struggled with addiction or love someone who does because she wants to t eliminate the stigma around addiction and mental health.
These women are serious about their mission. With AAE only a month old, they have already had a speaking engagement at the Chrysalis House and are planning one at The Hope Center where they tell their stories and offer the hope and help residents need to take the next step in recovery which may include attending college. Kidwell, Shouse and Leibouvitz all credit connections made at BCTC with finding and staying on the path to a new life.
They’ve also planned a Remembrance Walk on March 18, for those lost to addiction. Participants will meet at 9:30 a.m. for a time of sharing and, at 10:30 a.m., walk from the Newtown Administration Building to the memorial fence on Newtown Pike where anyone who wishes may place a padlock in memory of those lost. BCTC President Koffi Akakpo will lead the walk and students, staff, faculty and community members are invited to participate and can sign up from the BCTC website. AAE’s hope is that this will bring attention to the serious problems faced in all communities due to addiction.