Head Start staff asked RFK staff to work with them to explore effective and supportive ways of dealing with those suffering addiction, to consider what community-based systems could be enacted to help those seeking help, and to explore the creation of local treatment opportunities. They also committed to generating broad community conversations on these issues.
EKY Speaks began in June 2005 with activities continuing through June 2006. EKY Speaks activities pursued several tracks: generating public conversations, beginning with Head Start centers as the base, then moving to other community venues; creating public performances to raise awareness.
LKLP Head Start and RFK in EKY staff conducted several months of conversations and theater workshops with Head Start teachers, cooks and bus drivers in Mayking, Jenkins and Cowan about the effects of subscription drug abuse in their Head Start Centers, families and communities.
In the second phase of the EKY Speaks, Head Start personal initiated and moderated conversations with their parents and community, in a format developed with Agents & Assets featuring local experts (focusing on treatment), and encouraged community members to speak their minds. Conversations in this format continued every 2 weeks throughout the winter, and spring at Head Start centers and other community venues.
In the spring of 2006, based on these public conversations, EKY Speaks and Head Start teachers and parents developed a short performance: OXY GIRL. This performance presented specific questions to the audience, distilled from transcripts of the issues addressed during the community conversations, to continue the conversation about substance abuse, care giving, and the struggle to invigorate and nurture healthy families. OXY GIRL was performed at Head Start centers, UNITE meetings and the KY Head Start retreat in Jenny Wiley.
Head Start staff, recognizing the number of other rural communities suffering the same dynamic, plans to share both the process and outcomes of this project with other Head Start organizations regionally and nationally.