A new prescription drug safety program introduced to Akron-area high schools will help empower students to make safer and healthier decisions about prescription drug use, with hopes to help break the cycle of abuse before it begins.
The Rite Aid Foundation, which launched the Prescription Drug Safety program, joined Congressman Tim Ryan and Akron Public Schools officials Monday at Firestone Community Learning Center to announce that the program will be offered to schools in Summit and Stark counties at no cost.
Developed by education technology company EVERFI, the program uses interactive scenarios and self-guided activities to educate students about how to properly use and dispose of prescription drugs and how to step in when faced with a situation involving misuse. The program has been introduced at Firestone CLC, with plans to implement it at 20 area high schools over the next year.
“The education and enrichment of our children is the driving force within our community. We must equip them to become visionaries of change and contribute to our community in a positive way,” said Superintendent of Akron Public Schools David W. James. “We are extremely grateful to The Rite Aid Foundation for helping us educate our students about such a serious issue. We know this new program will empower them to make healthy decisions and become positive role models in the community.”
“The abuse of prescription drugs and opioids is a serious national crisis that threatens the health, safety and well-being of our young people,” said Tracy Henderson, director of The Rite Aid Foundation and charitable giving initiatives. “One of Rite Aid’s core values is to be a caring neighbor, involved in meaningful ways in the communities we serve, especially if it involves improving the health and well-being of children.”
Ohio is arguably one of the states hardest hit by prescription drug abuse and the opioid epidemic. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Ohio is among the top five states with the highest rates of opioid-related deaths.
In 2017, there were 5,111 opioid-related overdose deaths in Ohio—more than double the national average. To help combat the opiate crisis, Ohio is investing more than $1 billion a year to help battle drug abuse and addiction at the state and local levels.
“There isn’t a community in the United States that hasn’t been affected by the opioid epidemic. It demands our full attention and requires not only treatment but prevention as well,” said Ryan, co-chair of the Congressional Addiction, Treatment and Recovery Caucus and member of the Bipartisan Task Force to Combat the Heroin Epidemic. “With this kind of outreach and awareness, we can tackle the drug abuse ravaging our nation and prevent any more opioid overdose deaths from ever happening again.”
The Rite Aid Foundation, through its KidCents program, will also fund the introduction of the Prescription Drug Safety program to high schools in Lucas County, Ohio, as well as several communities in Washington, California, Michigan, Oregon and Pennsylvania. In all, The Rite Aid Foundation made a three-year, $1.7 million commitment to the program, which is expected to reach more than 400 high schools.
Through the KidCents program, members of Rite Aid’s loyalty program, wellness+ rewards, can round up their in-store or online purchases to the nearest dollar and donate their change. Members may also choose to direct their change to a specific KidCents charity by visiting www.kidcents.com.
Through KidCents’ Step Up Fund, The Rite Aid Foundation provides a matching donation of $500 for every $500 a charity raises in contributions through the wellness+ rewards program, up to a maximum of $5,000.
Since its inception in 2001, The Rite Aid Foundation has awarded more than $52 million to nonprofit organizations. Additionally, Rite Aid, through the efforts of its customers, supplier partners and associates, has also raised more than $87 million for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals across the country since 1994.