This year’s Appalachian Research Day event in Hazard focused on efforts to address the opioid epidemic. The one day program Wednesday included innovation stations from schools throughout eastern Kentucky.
Magoffin County High School Senior John Ward worked with his team on a project called ‘Yours, Mine, and Ours, the Story of Addiction.’ Ward says a friend of his participated in the project and shared how she lived with addiction in her home every day. “She was like, ‘if I could have just talked with somebody. If I could have the reassurance every day that everything is going to be ok.’ She wanted to have that hope at the end of the tunnel,” said Ward. “That she wanted to see the cup half full instead of half empty.”
As part of their project, Ward says four drop boxes were placed within the high school where students could anonymously offer their personal stories.
He says a one-time drug addict named Randall spoke about his past experiences. Ward believes the focus on awareness will help turn the tide on opioid use in Appalachia. “With our conference we let Randall explain that that’s not fun, that that’s not the cool thing to do in high school, that that’s not the normal thing to do. It’s bad and you don’t need to go down that road,” noted Ward. “So, yeah, I see it changing. I see it having a total flip flop in the next couple of years.”
University of Kentucky Center of Excellence in Rural Health Director Fran Feltner says the intent of Research Day came from an idea her grandfather offered about sitting on the porch and discussing problems to come up with solutions.
Feltner says 40 high school students and some 200 people overall took part in research day activities.