SAFE Fair Mixes Fun and Substance Abuse Awareness

By Maria Pericozzi

The sixth annual Oswego County Substance Awareness Family Education (SAFE), fair will focus on holistic and alternative ideas for treatment and recovery for those with an addiction or mental health illness.

This family-friendly free event will be held from noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday, April 28, at the Lake Ontario Event and Conference Center in Oswego.

The event is hosted by the VOW foundation, a nonprofit organization formed following the death of Victor Orlando Woolson from synthetic drugs in Oswego. His mother, Teresa Woolson, said the goal of the event is to bring together all of the service providers in the area to provide education for the community in a family-fun way.

“Nobody wants to just go to an event to learn, so there are a lot of fun things to bring people out to learn all about different things having to do with substance abuse, mental illness [and] suicide prevention,” Woolson said.

At this year’s event, the students in the New Vision High School Health Program at SUNY Oswego will have stations set up about mindfulness. Each service provider will have an activity set up at their table. Narcan training will be available, as well as speakers, presentations, games, a driving simulator and prizes.

Each person who attends the event and visits 10 of the stations or tables, will be entered into a free drawing. Woolson said it will encourage people to walk around and participate in the events.

Putting on the event is a large collaboration, Woolson said. There are a large number of sponsors who are contributing to the event to help put it on. She said she is hoping this event will educate the community.

“There are a lot of new programs because addiction and the opioid epidemic in our area is still very high,” Woolson said. “We have a lot of synthetic drugs in the area that are causing harm. Unfortunately, synthetic drugs are being mixed into all the different drugs.”

In 2012, Woolson’s 19-year-old son went into a store, bought a product containing synthetic drugs, which killed him. She said she keeps Victor’s story alive which keeps Victor alive in everyone’s hearts.

“[Everyone] really understands this does happen and it happens here in this community,” Woolson said. “It’s very dangerous and we all need to be prepared.”

Woolson started the VOW Foundation in his honor and his name, and vows to save lives. She said community members need to be aware of what’s out there, what’s going around, how to look for it, prevent it, treat it, and how to cope with things like stress and anxiety instead of going to things like drugs and alcohol.

“This event is important to bring all the new programs and all the new ideas and everything to the public and community to have more tools in their toolbox to help with life,” Woolson said.