DOBSON — Recently six students Surry County students and two local adults met with State Attorney General Roy Cooper as part their effort to inform the public about the dangers of prescription drug misuse and abuse.
The six are part of the Surry County Schools’ Prescription Drug Awareness Prevention Task Force. They, along with sponsor Sonia Dickerson and Frankie Andrews, area director for the National Coalition Against Prescription Drug Abuse met with Cooper as part of the kickoff event for the Stop RX Abuse video contest.
The group also met State Bureau of Investigation Director Donny Varnell. He told the group although 80 percent of parents talk to their children about illegal drugs and alcohol, while only 25 percent talk about prescription drugs. He also told them over the past 10 years prescription drug related deaths have increased 300 percent.
Cooper invited Surry County students to enter a student video contest where they may submit an original 30-second anti drug video for a chance to win an iPad. The runner-up prize is an iPod touch and the second runner-up will win an iTunes gift card.
The six who traveled to Durham were Taylor Joyce, Brittani Sumlin, Colton Hodges, Meagan Hutson, Jacob White and Jonathan Bobbitt. Other members of the task force are Abbie Stroud, Michela Coppola, Dixie Fulk, Paige Sizemore, Stephanie Simpson, Kaylee Freed, Elise Hayes, Justin Kramer and Salem Poindexter.
Dickerson explained that 16 students from the district’s four middle and high schools were named to the school task force. She said this group meets four times yearly to plan and organize how they will get the word out about the dangers of prescription drugs. Although March has been designated Prescription Drug Abuse awareness month, this week has been particularly busy.
This week task force members with their school principals designed, recorded and broadcast an Alert now system message about prescription drug abuse as well as morning announcements by students. The task force also chose videos which have been shown all month about the issue as well as posting public service announcements on posters, Facebook and Twitter. Students also were able to hand out free informational pamphlets during lunch on prescription drug abuse.
The task force has also designed tee shirts with the slogan “I got 99 problems but prescription Drug Abuse ain’t one.” Students were asked to sign pledge cards for a chance at winning one of the 350 shirts. Other events such as “Put a Cap on PDA,” where students wore baseball hats, and “Black Out PDA Day,” where students wore black clothing, were also held. One event encouraged students to dress “wacky-tacky” for “Get Wacky on Life not Drugs”day. School nurses have also been enlisted by the task force to do public service announcements at their assigned schools starting on March 25.
“It’s important that everyone know prescription drugs can be dangerous,” commented Central Middle School Task Force Student Representative Abbie Stroud. “I believe what we are doing has gotten the word through to some. The activities turned out better than we’d hoped. The important thing for me personally is I know now what the effects are and the danger.”
Central Middle School Principal Neil Atkins said he feels fortunate to be in a school system taking the lead on this issue.
“If we don’t get the word out and no one knows it’s even an issue how do you begin to solve this,” said Atkins. “People don’t understand the danger. We have all read about ‘pharm’ parties where participants are encouraged to bring whatever drugs they can for consumption. This is incredibly dangerous.”
Reach David Broyles at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-1952.