Updated: Mar 30
A dog’s account of watching his young owner succumb to drug abuse was read to fourth-graders at Brookside Elementary School Thursday in a program that discourages children from using drugs and helps parents and teachers provide support in avoiding them.
Only one-third of parents talk to their children about drugs, said Ginger Katz, author of “Sunny’s Story,” before entering a classroom to observe teacher Dorothy Brown read the first half of the book to her class.
Katz, founder and president of the Courage to Speak Foundation, has led a crusade against drug abuse by young people following the death of her 20-year-old son, Ian James Eaccarino, of a heroin overdose in 1996.
The cover of the book includes a photograph of Ian holding his beagle, Sunny, and the story told by the dog represents an account of the struggle Katz and her husband, Larry, Ian’s stepfather, went through trying to save him from drug addiction.
Teachers reading the book to their students is part of an eight-unit curriculum that includes chapters on avoiding tobacco and alcohol, which Sunny recounts witnessing Ian use drugs while in high school, along with developing a friendship with a drug dealer.
“As they hear Sunny’s story, (students) are going to vow not to use drugs,” Katz said.