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Third annual Stage for Change returns to Oxford Friday to de-stigmatize addiction and mental health issues

By Heather Rivers, Woodstock Sentinel-Review

Stacey Smith and Trevor McLellan, of the Oxford Drug Awareness Committee, are co-chairs for Stage for Change Oxford event on September 22 at Market Theatre in Woodstock (HEATHER RIVERS/SENTINEL-REVIEW)

Stacey Smith and Trevor McLellan, of the Oxford Drug Awareness Committee, are co-chairs for Stage for Change Oxford event on September 22 at Market Theatre in Woodstock (HEATHER RIVERS/SENTINEL-REVIEW)

Designed to bust the stigma of addiction, the third annual Stage for Change Oxford is returning to Woodstock this Friday with a goal of changing minds.

“From a message point of view it’s to shift your perspective,” explained Trevor McLellan of the Oxford Drug Awareness Committee. “We look at addiction very differently than other illnesses. People are stigmatized and they are called druggies or addicts, while there are no negative names for people with cancer.”

The two-fold free event will feature 16-year-old Abby Stewart, who has performed at all three events.

“It has become a pet project for her,” McLellan said.

“She is fantastic and blows everyone’s minds when she performs.”

The Kingston-area performer, who recently opened for Brett Kissell at the CNE, has also opened for American singer/songwriter Hunter Hayes.

The video for her new song Slowly Falling Down is being filmed in Woodstock over the weekend.

The concert at Market Theatre begins at 6 p.m. and will also feature musician Aaron Allen and IDCI student Nick Muirhead, a magician and Michael Jackson impersonator.

“Stage for Change is a concert to celebrate recovery from addiction,” said Stacey Smith, co-chair of the event. “It is an anti stigma campaign to raise awareness of addiction and mental health.”

Prior to concert, The Oxford Drug Awareness Committee, who is a group of service providers in Oxford dedicated to providing drug education, is hosting an Acoustic Café at 2 p.m.

It is also being held at the theatre.

“You can drop in for an hour or for 20 minutes,” Smith said.

The three-hour show will feature 11 acts including musicians, a ventriloquist, a yoga teacher, as well as visual artists.

“We were pleasantly surprised with the response,” McLellan said. “A lot of talent exists that people don’t recognize in the county.”

HRivers@postmedia.com