Greenbrier East students combat opioid epidemic by creating award-winning curriculum

FAIRLEA, WV (WOAY) – Two years ago, the West Virginia Legislature put out an all-call for ways to help combat the opioid epidemic and students at Greenbrier East High School answered.

Their chapter of Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA), now known as Future Health Professionals, took it upon themselves to create a preventive curriculum for middle and high school students about opioids and addiction that has since been recognized on all levels. 

“Addressing the West Virginia Opioid Crisis” is already being taught in Greenbrier County Schools and the four students behind the project want to take it statewide.

“We kind of created some games, some realization activities, some videos, a movie, kind of different things to keep students engaged,” Molli Baker, a senior involved in the project, said. “Where we’re in the classroom, we know what works. We know what’s effective for us, how we like to learn, so we kind of compiled all of that into one lesson plan to make it a little more effective for students.”

Last summer, the four students who are on the Medical Reserve Corps team within HOSA won 1st place at an international competition in Orlando for their lesson plan.

On Wednesday, the students spent the day in Charleston at the West Virginia State Capitol  presenting to the public health caucus.

Margaret Dodd, a health occupations teacher at Greenbrier East, advises the team and says what makes their work stand out is not only the thoughtfulness of the curriculum but the fact that it was created by students.

She says that it has not only opened the eyes of legislators and other adults but also the students who are using it in the classroom. 

“Instead of us as adults saying, ‘You need to do this, you need to do that,’ they’re taking the initiative and they’re trying to fix the problem which makes me think we have a very bright future ahead of us,” Dodd said. 

As two get ready for college and the other two get ready for senior year, they all hope this lesson plan will continue in their schools and beyond and prove to other students that you’re never too young to make an impact.

“It’s really exciting because who would have ever thought me, in 11th grade, was part of this curriculum that’s helping fight that opioid epidemic that like overtook our state so it’s really interesting and exciting,” Samantha Bostic said. 

This year’s team featuring Bostic and Baker as well as Hunter Wamsley and Kelly Hanson,  leaves for a state competition this weekend at Marshall University which could advance them to another international win at this year’s competition in Houston.

The team plans to take on vaping next.

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Anna Saunders
Anna Saunders is a weekend reporter for WOAY. With a diploma from Princeton Senior High School and a mother from Fayette County, she is no stranger to the area. She received a degree in Media Arts and Design from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia and wanted to return home to start her career as a reporter.