people running in 5k
The silhouette of a head pointing left is made up of black and blue hands. Above the head reads "spotlight on," and in the head reads "teen mental health."
Shining the Light: Spotlight on Teen Mental Health logo

5K planned to help end teen substance abuse.

Runners and walkers are invited to “Spring Into Action” in downtown Franklin May 19 at a 5K to help end teen substance abuse one step at a time.

Led by the Youth Action Board (YAB) of the Birmingham Bloomfield Community Coalition (BBCC), the YAB’s goal is to raise awareness of teen substance use and abuse.

The Birmingham Bloomfield Community Coalition is a local nonprofit group founded in 1994 that works to prevent substance abuse, mental illness and stress. Cheryl LaKritz, vice president of the board, has been volunteering with the organization for 22 years.

YAB Logo, Youth Action Board“When we all work together, we really can make a difference in our teens’ drug and alcohol use,” said LaKritz, who lives in Bloomfield Hills and attends Temple Israel. “One method is by providing parents with strategic ways to talk to their children about drugs and alcohol. Parents must keep up with the challenges in prevention. Information on vaping and opiate abuse are two issues we currently addressing.”

YAB members meet on a regular basis to dialogue on substance use and abuse trends, as well as other important issues teens face today. Based on this information, they plan and organize safe, fun, alternative community-based and supported events and leadership opportunities for teens.

“YAB is a dynamic and diverse group of students from the public and private high schools in Birmingham and Bloomfield Hills working together for positive change in our communities,” says Carol Mastroianni, executive director of the BBCC.

“The critical opioid epidemic and other substance abuse — from alcohol to vaping — are devastating. The YAB students came up with the 5K to bring greater awareness in Birmingham and Bloomfield as well as surrounding communities,” she added. “Their race/walk is a positive and inclusive event where many can take part, make a difference and have fun.”

YAB co-president Kristen Harvey, a senior at Groves High School, says the event and raising awareness are important because “kids should live substance-free lives to give them the best opportunity to have a great future, so they do not get stuck with the consequences of a teenage decision.”

Volunteer Nanci Michaels, along with her husband, Jacob, son, Isaac, and daughter, Hannah, will be taking part in the walk.

“People think substance abuse is an urban problem, but it hits affluent suburbs, too,” said Nanci Michaels, a social psychologist who lives with her family in Franklin and attends Adat Shalom Synagogue. “As a parent with a mission to keep my kids drug-free, I want to make sure the Jewish community is connected with the resources of the community at large, such as those at BBCC.

“I want to gather up our Jewish friends and do the 5K together as a positive, health-promoting event,” she added.

The Spring Into Action 5K is a certified route and timed race through Franklin Village. Participants receive T-shirts before and prizes will be awarded to race winners.

YAB codeRacers and walkers can check in at 8 a.m. in the Village of Franklin on Saturday, May 19, with 9 a.m. the start time for the event. The cost to participate is $35 before April 30; May 1-19 the fee is $40; teams of six are $20 a person. Ages 11-17 are $15 and kids 10 and under are free. All money raised goes directly to BBCC/YAB prevention programs. To register, visit For questions, contact or call (248) 203-4615.

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