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Mishawaka girl gives insight into opioid epidemic

Mishawaka, IND. --- A Mishawaka girl gave the city’s Common Council insight into the opioid epidemic on Monday.

Ava Atikinson, 10, wrote an essay about how her mother died from an drug overdose three years ago. 

“Ever since I was about 4 years old, I’ve known how drugs can affect you,” said Atikson. “My mom died because of an overdose when I was 7 years old.”

She said not a day goes by she does not think about her mother. 

“She wasn’t a teenager, she was 29 years old,” she said. “She didn’t even get to see her own kids grow up.”

Atikinson was one of two students awarded a City Champion award on June 5 for their essays. Lt. Tim Williams, D.A.R.E. officer for the Mishawaka Police Department, had his students write end-of-the-year essays. 

“Some of them share their personal experiences,” he said. “What they learned in D.A.R.E. and how they actually experience that in their lives and in their families.”

Atikinson said her class was talking about how people die from drug abuse and it spurred her to share her mother’s story. Lt. Williams said the stories of students puts another face on the opioid epidemic. 

“They have a voice and a lot of times their voices aren’t heard,” he said. “And when they write something so powerful those are inspiring.”

Lt. Williams said the two students will have an opportunity to win the State Championship with their essays later this month. 

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