Paris School students participate in pilot of prescription medication awareness unit

/Submitted photo

Here is a news release from Paris School about a national pilot of a new prescription medication awareness unit that some students there participated in recently:

Eighth graders at Paris Consolidated recently completed the national pilot of a new prescription medication awareness unit, which was developed by DisposeRx, a North Carolina-based company on a mission to safely clean out unused prescriptions. “When we were asked last spring to participate in a program about how dangerous the medications in medicine cabinets are, I knew we wanted to do it,” Principal Roger Gahart explained to the audience, which included the 8th grade families, executives from DisposeRx, representatives from WalMart Pharmacy, Kenosha County Substance Abuse Coalition and Kenosha County Deputy Friendly, Ray Rowe. “Our students’ safety is always our first concern, and I knew we have the strong community that DisposeRx needed to pilot its program.” The course was taught by middle school science teacher Tiffany Erbentraut, and concluded with a family share event. Paris eighth graders worked in small groups to do deep dive research about drug abuse, treatment and recovery, then built presentations of their findings. “I was impressed by how seriously the students took the work,” she said. “The level of research they applied in their presentations showed me that students know there is a problem in our community and they want to understand it. I could see the learning that happened with this program.” The 3-part course was developed by Ann Hamlin, the Director of Science and Training at DisposeRx. “Safe prescription medication disposal is at the heart of our team’s work,” she commented. “But in order for people to take that step to disposal, we think it’s critical to teach them why it is so important. That’s why we developed this curriculum. It’s a short, three-part course that wraps up with a family and community share event. This lets students stand up in front of their parents and siblings and talk about the dangers in their medicine cabinets and of drug addiction in general.” Students had the opportunity to test the DisposeRx product during the coursework. “They absolutely loved the part where they got to use the product to destroy some Altoids,” Erbentraut added. “We talked about how the powder is a polymer that traps the ingredients in the medications and isolates them to destroy the drug. It’s such a great real-world way to showcase chemistry.” The Paris team took an extra step with the program by inviting Kenosha County DARE officer Ray Rowe to revisit the students he taught as 5th graders. “Our students absolutely love Deputy Rowe,” Erbentraut commented as she introduced him to speak at the family share. “When he walked into the classroom, they actually cheered for him.” “There is a gap in what we teach our kids,” Rowe told parents in his remarks. “We hit DARE hard in fifth grade, but then we don’t talk about drugs again until maybe a survey unit in high school health. And even in fifth grade, the DARE program doesn’t spend a lot of focus on prescriptions in the medicine cabinet. This program DisposeRx has put together is a great extra boost of real, practical knowledge before they go off to high school.” Rowe tied current county events into his comments to the assembly. “We have recently had a rash of bad crime in Kenosha County. That’s not who we are and it doesn’t have a place here. But you know what the shootings all had in common? Drugs. We need to get drugs out of our community. We all have a responsibility to do something as simple as clean unused prescription medications out our medicine cabinets and take them to a drop box or a take back event or use a simple product like DisposeRx to safely destroy them in your home.” Parents expressed appreciation for the course as well. “The presentations tonight showed that all of the kids in the class learned more about the dangers of prescription drug abuse and ways to safely get rid of them,” said Leann Drissel. “But it also gives our family another good opportunity to have more conversations at home.” Hamlin explained that she will take feedback from the school to make adjustments and begin offering the program to other schools in select communities across the country. She added that at least one other school in Kenosha County has expressed interest in bringing the curriculum to their eighth graders.

/Submitted photo

/Submitted photo

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