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Encouraging Overdose Awareness: The Black Balloon Project Art Exhibit at Life Learning Center

In partnership with Gabi Deaton, the founder of The Black Balloon Project, Inc., an art exhibit showcasing The Black Balloon Project will be hosted on Saturday, March 2nd.

Scheduled from noon to 3 p.m., the event will feature speaking engagements by photographer Gabi Deaton at 1:30 p.m. Following her address, Tami Bobblitt, who tragically lost her son Chase to a fentanyl overdose in 2021, will deliver remarks. A remembrance slideshow honoring those lost to overdose will follow.

The Black Balloon Project comprises a poignant photo collection aimed at highlighting the profound impact of the overdose epidemic on the community. The initiative serves to raise awareness about the lingering grief stemming from overdose deaths and combat the stigma associated with individuals battling substance use disorder. Each photograph in the exhibit is accompanied by a narrative detailing the life of the individual beyond their struggles with substance use.

Gabi Deaton, the visionary behind The Black Balloon Project, not only serves as the project’s photographer but also as a woman in recovery for over 13 years. Her journey began with addiction at the age of 13, leading to a tumultuous period marked by two near-fatal overdoses in downtown Cincinnati, both requiring Narcan intervention. In 2011, following a four-year struggle with heroin addiction, she was mandated to undergo treatment at The Brighton Recovery Center for women, initiating her path to recovery.

Recently, Deaton transitioned The Black Balloon Project into a standalone non-profit organization, dedicated to supporting the recovery community and their families. The non-profit raises funds for emergency burial assistance for families coping with sudden overdose-related losses. Additionally, it focuses on easing the transition of individuals in recovery housing to independent living by providing essential household items and move-out kits.

“The Black Balloon Project serves as a stark reminder of the realities of addiction within our community,” remarked Gabi Deaton. “Each individual depicted in these photographs holds significance, their lives are meaningful, and their narratives deserve to be shared.”

At the upcoming event, Gabi Deaton, in her dual role as photographer and founder of The Black Balloon Project Inc., will be in attendance alongside partner organizations such as Target 4, offering complimentary HIV and HEP C testing, Casey’s Law, and The Northern Kentucky Health Department providing free overdose education and Narcan distribution, among other local recovery services.

Attendees will receive a complimentary ticket for a giveaway, and Recovery Apparel will be available for purchase to support The Black Balloon Project, Inc.

The venue for the art exhibit, Life Learning Center, offers a unique 12-week intensive program focused on addressing barriers across five life domains: physical, financial, spiritual, relational, and emotional. With a robust care continuum supported by numerous residential and community partners, this program facilitates transformative change, sustainable employment, and dignity for at-risk individuals in Northern Kentucky.

Moreover, Life Learning Center serves as a hub of resources for community-based recovery support, encompassing peer support, diverse recovery groups, employment assistance, and essential life skills training for employment retention. Given the population served by the center, which includes individuals grappling with substance use disorder, overdoses, and their familial repercussions, the Black Balloon Project Art Exhibit holds particular significance.

In 2022, 81% of Life Learning Center Candidates disclosed a history of substance use. Supported by grant funding from the Kentucky Opioid Response Effort (KORE), the center offers a comprehensive range of clinical and non-clinical services to Candidates and Members. As one of only fifteen Recovery Community Centers in Kentucky, Life Learning Center conducts a minimum of seven recovery support meetings weekly and collaborates with various partners offering substance use disorder treatment. The recent establishment of St. Elizabeth Journey Recovery Center on-site further enhances the array of substance use treatment programs available.

This collaborative effort aims to provide a holistic approach to individuals battling substance use disorder, often compounded by legal issues and untreated health conditions. Participants will have access to a wide range of services, including enrollment in the Foundations for a Better Life Curriculum. The center also facilitates Family Reunification meetings, fostering connections among families affected by substance use disorder.

The Black Balloon Project Art Exhibit, set against the backdrop of Life Learning Center’s mission and services, stands as a poignant reminder of the ongoing battle against substance use disorder and the vital support provided to those in need.