A local politician and mental health advocate is trying to take some of the stigma out of addiction with some arts and crafts.
Barrie Ward 6 Councillor and former paramedic Natalie Harris is crafting get-well cards for those battling addiction, correcting what she feels is a huge oversight. “One thing I’ve always noticed is there’s never been a get-well card for addiction or those battling addiction.”
“The purpose is to hopefully break down the stigma surrounding addiction,” added Harris, “some members of the community think addiction is a choice and you can just stop. No one ever wakes up in the morning and chooses to battle with addiction.”
Harris isn’t the only one crafting these cards either. “It’s been really great, I only started a week ago, and so far, the Barrie Fire Service has been amazing,” said Harris, “We sat down and I brought some crafts from the dollar store. I covered the whole table at Station One and they sat down, and we made cards, and we were covered in glitter, and it was the best day ever.” She added Mayor Jeff Lehman and city staff also participated. Harris is planning on visiting some schools with this project after having been contacted by local teachers.
While Harris has spearheaded this project, she says anyone can do it. “Even if you have paper in your drawer at home,” said Harris, “it doesn’t need to be elaborate, it can be simple, it can be whatever you want it to be. It just needs to be filled with inspiration and positive thoughts from someone battling this disease.”
The cards will be collected and distributed to various addiction treatment and recovery centres in the Barrie-area, while Harris says she’s already heard some of the positive results from a local detox centre. “There were five women there, and two of them were in tears. They were so grateful to have that connection with someone in that community and that support.”
Those who wish to get involved can contact Councillor Harris via email.