AOD program hosts “Voices for Recovery” week, raises mental health, addiction awareness

Geneseo’s Alcohol and Other Drugs program hosted their first “Voices for Recovery” week from Sept. 22-Saturday Oct. 1 to raise awareness of addiction recovery and mental health challenges. The week was in lieu of National Recovery Month, as every September is dedicated to increasing awareness of mental and substance abuse disorders as well as celebrating people who have recovered. During the week, AOD held different events, including Sunset Yoga & Luminary Lighting and a 1K walk.

The Sunset Yoga & Luminary Lighting on Thursday Sept. 29, originally held on the College Green, was rained out and moved to the Knight’s Spot. The event centered on “letting go of the blocks in one’s life,” referring to mental illnesses and addiction. Many people use yoga for mind clarity and for making peace with themselves.

Psychology major senior Sydney Cooke—who is currently in the process of getting her yoga teaching certification at Shakti Yoga—taught the class. As Cooke’s first time teaching a class, she went through basic poses such as downward dog and tree pose to provide a basis of strengthening and elongating exercises.

“We wanted to have a yoga event to connect recovery and promote wellness all around,” Cooke said. “We really wanted to promote awareness of [mental illnesses and addictions].”

After the yoga class concluded, the luminary lightings began. Students beforehand wrote inspirational messages on paper bags to people who have lost or are currently fighting a battle with addiction. At the Lighting, participants placed these paper bags in the gazebo outside of the Knight’s Spot and lit them with candles. The luminary lightings were a beautiful, touching ending to the relaxing yoga class.

AOD advocates partnered with the Council of Alcohol and Substance Abuse of Livingston County on Saturday Oct. 1 to host a 1K Voices for Recovery Walk around campus. The walk started outside of Sturges Hall and went around a loop on campus. Although it was chilly and drizzling, the weather did not deter students from participating.

“This walk is to raise awareness and lower the stigma toward recovery of [alcohol and substance abuse],” math major senior Rebecca Masse said. “We want to bring these issues to the forefront of peoples’ minds.”

Participants received T-shirts, water bottles and granola bars. The back of each T-shirt read, “Sunsets are proof that no matter what happens, each day can end beautifully,” a quote that acted as a reminder that recovery is always an option.

Through events like Sunset Yoga and the 1K Walk, AOD provides hope and works to break down the stigmatic barriers surrounding addiction and mental health.