Coalitions in Action: Champaign County, Ohio’s Youth Pay it Forward
“Being part of CADCA’s Medicine Safety Youth Educators Pilot Program empowers our student leaders to become role models for the middle schoolers they will be teaching. They also get to articulate what is so important to them – protecting generations to come and themselves against the challenges associated with over-the-counter (OTC), prescription, and other forms of drug misuse and abuse,” affirms Stacey Logwood, Coordinator of Champaign County Drug-Free Youth Coalition (CCDFYC), located in Urbana, OH.
The coalition’s story is a fitting conclusion to this year’s National Medicine Abuse Awareness Month (NMAAM) because it so effectively connects the dots between educating young people about OTC medicine safety/self-medicating and protecting them against prescription drug misuse and abuse.
CADCA caught up with Logwood and had the opportunity to discuss the pilot program’s progress. The community, which is home to 40,000 residents, has an interesting demographic, with 25 percent being under age 18.
“The Medicine Safety Youth Educators Program provides important opportunities to influence the behaviors of a significant portion of our population, and the two school districts we are working with are extremely excited about the launch of our efforts,” reiterates Logwood.
CCDFYC is one of 20 coalitions selected to participate in CADCA’s Medicine Safety Youth Educators Pilot Program, which trained youth leaders from each coalition how to teach 5th and 6th graders a curriculum designed to increase their knowledge about responsible OTC medicine use. The curriculum, called the Over-the-Counter Medicine Safety program, was developed by Scholastic and the American Association of Poison Control Centers, with support from McNeil Consumer Healthcare.
Through the pilot program, CCDFYC youth leaders will teach about 50 5th and 6th grade students the curriculum by the end of December 2016, and plans for reaching 600 students with the curriculum are confirmed through the end of the academic school year in 2017. Other school districts are knocking on the coalition’s door, asking to participate in this effort.
The seven high school students who serve as the student educators:
- Have presented the material numerous times to diverse audiences, honing in on how to talk with teachers, administrators, and students
- Are perfecting their delivery of OTC medicine safety facts and safe use and storage practices
- Are improving their presentation skills, making the material even more exciting and engaging
The CCDFYC has traditionally focused on underage drinking prevention and related issues. The Coalition also has an Opiate Taskforce that addresses the community’s prescription and heroin challenges. In Champaign County, OH, the Medicine Safety Youth Educators Program addresses a previously unfilled information gap, and the CCDFYC’s Youth Advisory Council – the youth led committee of the coalition – was instrumental in bringing this new effort into fruition. Council members are Emma Lockwood, Emily Wilson, Stephanie Dietrich, Isabelle Dietrich, Mason Drown, Molly Hamilton, Ivy Nutt, Haylee Johns, Gabrielle Pence, Dustin Moell, Tabby McCall, and Maddy McCreary. The adult advisors are Jessica Doggett, Stacey Logwood, and Chelsey Holland.
“We hadn’t heard about the OTC Medicine Safety program prior to CADCA’s Mid-Year, and once we were engaged, we quickly realized its relevancy. It’s a win/win. Student educators, who themselves are just a few years older than middle schoolers, get to educate children about the importance of OTC medicine safety while also reinforcing healthy behaviors for themselves and their peers. Teaching children about OTC medicine safety and establishing healthy, medicine safety practices during the tween years can protect people for a lifetime. That is how prescription and heroin abuse can be prevented before it begins. That’s why what we’re doing is mission-critical,” concludes Logwood.
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