Task force discusses substance abuse prevention

By Aimee Hancock - [email protected]

SIDNEY — The Shelby County Drug Task Force Education and Prevention Committee met Tuesday to discuss updates from last month’s meeting and next steps in the work toward practical solutions to the opioid epidemic and substance abuse.

Margo O’Leary, director of marketing and public relations at Wilson Health, gave a brief update about Project Purple, an initiative designed to bring awareness to the issue of substance abuse by promoting abstinence and positive decision-making.

O’Leary said the initiative is set to launch in January. She also spoke about a meeting today that she and Ann Geise, guidance counselor for Sidney City Schools, have scheduled with Sidney Middle School student council advisers, which will determine further details of Project Purple events and dates.

“Our goal is to set the schedule for the rest of the year,” O’Leary said.

Also on the agenda at Tuesday’s task force meeting was the implementation of the Character Playbook. This is a program designed to help educate students on how to cultivate and maintain healthy relationships. Jackson Center, Botkins, and Christian Academy all plan to implement the program at their schools and are training teachers to help do so.

In other news, Julie Clay of the Shelby County Counseling Center said SCCC prevention teams are currently conducting presentations for seventh- and eighth-grade students at Sidney Middle School to address substance abuse issues.

Clay said SCCC also plans to make prevention-based presentations at the high school beginning in January.

According to Ian Ridgeway, prevention and wellness coordinator for the Tri-County Board of Recovery and Mental Health Services, in Troy, the board is currently working on plans to host a Tri-County Teen Institute program. This is a one-day summit for area seventh- and eighth-graders, focusing on mental health and substance abuse issues.

Scott Barr, executive director of the Shelby County United Way, said the next Community Conversation will be Jan. 23, 2018, in the St. Paul’s Church in Botkins, beginning at 7 p.m.

Ridgeway will also be in attendance at St. Paul’s Church prior to the Community Conversation event in order to facilitate the Hidden in Plain Sight drug-awareness program.

The program involves a mock teen bedroom setting, giving local parents the opportunity to learn about various ways drug and alcohol use can be “hidden in plain sight.” This educational presentation will begin at 6 p.m.

The task force also touched on the discussion from last month regarding the idea of creating additional drop box locations for prescription drug disposal in Shelby County.

According to Barr, these drop box locations must be law enforcement-driven due to the need for security and constant monitoring of the areas.

Barr said further updates regarding this matter should be available at the task force’s February meeting.

Due to the upcoming holidays, the task force agreed to reconvene Feb. 13 at 9 a.m.

By Aimee Hancock

[email protected]

Reach the writer at 937-538-4825.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4825.