Vermont Business Magazine Burlington International Airport Director Gene Richards said "a couple million people a year" will walk through the sunny, second floor corridor where rocking chairs offer comfort and a view of the airfield and Green Mountains. They will also be challenged to think about the opioid crisis that plagues Vermont and America. In honor of National Recovery Month, Aspenti Health(link is external) unveiled on Monday the Change Corridor at BTV. The Change Corridor, located on the second floor of the North Terminal, is a multi-year-long public campaign designed to build awareness about substance use disorders, educate individuals about addiction and recovery, and shine a new light on how Vermonters are coming together to address the opioid epidemic.
The corridor features displays, a video loop on a flat panel screen and messages, courtesy of Yipes, stenciled directly onto the windows. Richards said BTV has committed to keeping the display up for at least a year, but will probably be longer, because, "I don't believe we'll fix this in a year."
On hand for the official unveiling was Senator Patrick Leahy, Congressman Peter Welch, Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger, Burlington Police Chief Brandon del Pozo and Chris Powell, CEO of Aspenti Health.
Andrew Gonyea and Patrick Leahy. VBM photos.
“Addiction is not a choice,” Powell said. “It is a chronic brain disease known as Substance Use Disorder. It does not discriminate. It can touch anyone regardless of age, education, or income. It is an illness that is affecting Vermonters, and it is time for change. We believe the Change Corridor will be the catalyst for challenging people’s mental models of how they view addiction so that they become a part of the solution, not the problem. When it comes to addiction, the only choice we make is how we choose to address it.”
The highly-trafficked location of the Change Corridor allows Aspenti the opportunity to reach a large audience, one that includes both Vermonters and those from out of state, with key messages surrounding addiction and recovery. On one side, individuals will be exposed to information designed to reduce the stigma surrounding Substance Use Disorder, encourage them to seek new information and develop compassion for those in recovery and in treatment.
The other side of the corridor will feature quotes from local business owners, government officials, individuals in recovery, and organizations involved in recovery to show how the community is coming together to address the opioid epidemic. Additional elements of the campaign include video interviews featuring stories from members of the recovery community and an art installation.
“What we have here is a very public recognition of a problem that challenges not only our state but our entire nation: opioid addiction,” Leahy said. “But we are all here today with a message of hope, not despair because we are facing this challenge together.”
"The opioid epidemic is ravaging communities in Vermont and across the country," Welch said. "The Change Corridor is an important opportunity to remember those we have lost to opioid addiction, support individuals in recovery, and to educate our families and communities about how we can continue fighting this disease."
Andrew Gonyea also spoke at the event. Gonyea is a native of Bellows Falls and a co-founder of Vermont Foundation of Recovery, and VFOR’s Director of Operations. He is also a person in recovery since May 24, 2003. He was an inmate with the Vermont Department of Corrections from 2005-2008. He acknowledged his criminal past and daily struggles.
"I'm not a bad person," Gonyea said. "I have this mental illness... It takes all of us to come together."
It is important for public and private organizations to work together, the speakers said, to find a solution and support those going through recovery. Fifteen organizations have shared ideas in the planning of this exhibit and will continue to work in collaboration as the Change Corridor evolves over the next year, they are: Yipes Auto & Graphics, Spectrum Youth & Family Services, Lund, Burlington Police Department, Leonardo’s Pizza, Turning Point Center of Chittenden County, Community Justice Center, Vermont Department of Health, Vermont Association for Mental Health and Addiction Recovery (VAMHAR), Vermont Association of Business Industry and Rehabilitation (VABIR), Vermont Foundation of Recovery, Champlain Valley Union High School, Drug Abuse Resistance Team (DART), UVM Catamount Recovery Program, and the Governor’s Opioid Coordination Council.
“Burlington International Airport feels privileged to take part in the discussion around the opiate crisis within the State of Vermont and beyond,” Richards said. “This battle cannot be won unless we all participate in a caring and passionate way. Our first step is providing the space for this important conversation to take place.”
The Change Corridor exhibit is free and open to the public daily.
From left, Mayor Weinberger, Congressman Welch, VFOR’s Andrew Gonyea, Aspenti CEO Chris Powell, Senator Leahy, Chief del Pozo and BTV Director Gene Richards. VBM photos.
About Aspenti Health: Aspenti Health is an innovative, comprehensive clinical drug testing lab that is seeking to redefine the role of the traditional healthcare testing partner. Led by healthcare professionals and employing people of recovery, Aspenti is focused on helping patients meet their recovery goals while creating a lasting impact through community involvement. Through enhanced treatment access and patient advocacy, Aspenti is dedicated to improving patient outcomes. Aspenti works hand-in- hand with care providers in order to better serve their mutual patients through patient-focused services such as mobile testing, data-driven digital health integration, thought leadership, and strategic partnerships with leading healthcare and research institutions.
Source: Burlington, VT - October 2, 2017— Aspenti www.aspenti.com