MC students ‘go purple’ for Herren Project

By on September 26, 2018

Chris Herren will address community Oct. 2

Manheim Central High School students wear their Baron’s spirit wear in the signature colors of maroon and gray. However, over the past few weeks, there’s been a bit a purple.

Faculty and administrators are “going purple” — they’re wearing Project Purple t-shirts on Tuesdays to help promote the school’s Project Purple Initiative and an upcoming discussion by Project Purple and The Herren Project founder Chris Herren.

Herren, a former professional NBA basketball player who struggled with substance abuse throughout his career, is an author and sobriety advocate. He’s been alcohol- and substance-free since Aug. 1, 2008. The Herren Project’s Project Purple initiative’s goals are to create awareness and educate the public on the epidemic of substance abuse and to encourage teens and people of all ages to make positive decisions and stand up to drugs and alcohol.

Ed Herbert, business teacher and coordinator of MCSIC (Manheim Central Student Investment Club), and high school principal Joshua Weitzel, along with a 15-student Purple Project committee, are helping to spread the purple tide. The student team began wearing their Project Purple t-shirts on Sept. 18.

It’s all leading up to a presentation to students by Chris Herren on Oct. 2. A second presentation to middle school students and the community will be also be held. The public presentation is slated for 7 p.m., Oct. 2 at Manheim Central Middle School, 261 White Oak Road, Manheim. The event is free and open to those age 12 and over.

Manheim Central High School is “going purple” to support the message of former NBA player Chris Herren. Pictured are some of the members of the Project Purple committee: (front row, left to right) Joye Martin, Laura Good, Maddy Barbush, and Lexi Hosler; (back row, l-r) Tyler Flick, Evan Simon and Cade Zeamer. (Photo provided by MCHS)

Herbert said he learned about Herren and Project Purple from a concerned parent.

“We looked into the initiative and decided we wanted to participate,” Herbert said. “Chris Herren has a very compelling story — he relates his experience and tells kids they don’t want to go down that same path.”

“We know substance abuse is out there. We want to be proactive,” Weitzel said. “That’s why this initiative is so important.”

Both Herbert and Weitzel agree that having a group of students involved with the school’s effort is critical.

“It’s important that the message about supporting the fight against substance abuse comes from a group of their peers. It means more to kids to hear it from their peers,” he said.

After Herren’s presentation at the high school, students may take the Project Purple Pledge during their lunch hour Oct. 3, 4 or 5. The pledge reads as follows: “I will make good decisions and support others. I will be true to myself. I will stand up to drugs and alcohol. I will celebrate life, I am good enough. Purple. Proud.”

Students who take the pledge will receive a Project Purple t-shirt and may sign the school’s Project Purple banner.

“It’s important for our students to understand that this is non-judgmental,” Weitzel said. “We’ll have counselors available after Herren’s presentation at the high school to assist anyone who feel they may need to speak with someone.”

Students taking the pledge will be encouraged to wear their t-shirts on Friday, Oct. 5.

“We’re hoping for a ‘purple-out,’” Herbert said.

Funding for Herren’s high school and middle school/community presentations, “Rebound: The Chris Herren Story,” is through MCFEE (Manheim Central foundation for Educational Enrichment). Amy Howett, MCFEE executive director, said the $23,000 grant includes funding to provide the Project Purple t-shirts.

“The MCFEE trustees decided to fund the Chris Herren/Project Purple after a recommendation from a trustee and several community members and organizations who are very passionate about providing an opportunity to educate and help prevent substance abuse and addiction to our MC students and community. After viewing the dynamic and relevant Chris Herren presentation, Project Purple videos, and an ESPN 30for30 video, the trustees saw the widespread value this project/presentation could offer,” Howett said. “Everyone shared in the concern about this epidemic facing our youth and our community. MCFEE is dedicated to giving and providing educational enriching opportunities for the students at Manheim Central. But, how can we educate and enrich the youth if they are struggling with substance abuse and addiction?”

Howett said funds for the initiative were raised during the MCFEE 4 Kids Auction in April as a special live grant. MCFEE, an academic booster club, has awarded $1.3 million in grants since its inception in 2001.

For further information about Chris Herren’s public presentation, visit the district’s website, manheimcentral.org, or its Facebook page. For further information about The Herren Foundation and its Project Purple initiative, visit THPprojectpurple.org or theherrenproject.org.

Rochelle Shenk is a correspondent for the Lititz Record Express. She welcomes your comments and questions at RAASHENK@aol.com.

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