The School of Pharmacy, in conjunction with the Boy Scouts of America, has taken measures to expand the opioid and substance abuse crisis awareness among adolescents. 

The interactive program provides a fun and engaging way for young scouts to learn about substance abuse and its effects, and to test their knowledge. 

Jessica Kerr, interim associate dean of the SOP, helped develop the program. She also served as team lead for the submission of the Meridian Society grant — which helped fund the project — and was the co-advisor for the students who created the content of the modules. 

“The SOP is very active with other initiatives to combat the opioid crisis in our local, state and national arenas. Faculty from the SOP partnered with the Illinois Pharmacists Association to create the standing order sets and training for pharmacists in Illinois to dispense naloxone under a standing order,” Kerr said.  

According to Kerr the program is not the only one of its kind in the Metro East.

“Kelly Gable, associate professor, department of pharmacy practice, along with St. Louis College of Pharmacy faculty, has developed similar training programs for the state of Missouri to expand continuing education opportunities surrounding these topics,” Kerr said. “ The Generation RX chapter program has awarded over $13,000 to create initiatives to help diverse populations with education opportunities.” 

Fourth-year SOP students Jazmine Rosales, of Elgin, Illinois and Paris Smith of Chicago, are co-developers of the program and have created the content of five educational modules, which teach the different aspects of drug abuse, the consequences of misuse and the associated risks.

“The target age for the program is very young because we want to educate them on substance abuse before they get to middle school, where there is more peer pressure and exposure to these substances,” Rosales said. 

Smith designed the fifth module titled “Drugs of Abuse.” In this module, scouts can show what they have learned and have the opportunity to discuss it with leaders and other young scouts. To create the modules, Smith performed research on how drugs work in the body. Smith said this project was beyond an academic requirement, but an opportunity to give back to her community. 

“I love giving back to the community, and this is a really great project for kids to talk about early on because the opioid crisis is huge, and having this program available makes it easier to talk about these things,”  Smith said. “It gives them the tools to say no, walk away and possibly be able to help someone else avoid peer pressure and using drugs.”

Christopher Herndon, professor in the Department of Pharmacy Practice, used the modules the students created and used Adobe Captivate to produce an online experience where young scouts can access the modules, quiz their knowledge and receive a certificate upon completion of the program. They then have an opportunity to engage in a face-to-face interaction and increase the productivity and effectiveness of what they have learned by playing games such as bingo. 

Eric Voss, professor of inorganic chemistry, serves as a troop leader and will be hosting the developers to run the active learning portion of the program on Monday, Nov. 18, and the scouts will complete their badges on Monday, Dec. 2, both events will be in Glen Carbon, Illinois.

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