More than $100,000 in grant funds from local, national and international Rotary clubs will be used in a multi-faceted campaign to fight the opioid epidemic in the Southern Tier (New York counties).
Rotary District 7170 Grant Chair Lana Rouff announced how the funds will be used locally at a news conference on Tuesday.
Rouff explained a previous mission of the Rotary years ago was to help to eradicate polio. Broome County Executive Jason Garnar said, “The heroin epidemic is this generation’s polio.”
“We are losing our young people and people from all walks of life because of addiction,” Rouff said prior to the conference. “We want to make a difference, even if it’s just one life.”
Rouff said the Rotary is completely Rotarian and volunteer supported, and when it was decided that opiate addiction would be the focus of the grant, a committee was formed. Members of the committee spanned counties, organisations and included an advertising agency.
“We worked all summer to establish a programme,” said Rouff.
Once the goals and objectives were established, contributions were made by members of Rotary Districts 7170 and 4100, the Rotary Foundation, various domestic Rotary clubs and Rotary clubs in Canada, Mexico and India.
The funds total $107,990 and Rouff laid out the four-part approach to fighting the crisis.
Rouff said the first point of the plan was to assist the Addiction Centre of Broome County by providing medical equipment, necessities for addicts experiencing withdrawal symptoms and supplies.
She explained that some items have already been purchased and provided, and the Rotary is in the process of purchasing more.
The second component of the plan involves the Teen Institute, where the mission is to empower teens with the knowledge, skills and confidence to lead a drug-free life.
The plan also aims to develop and strengthen leadership skills among the teenagers, educate and lead peers to reduce the frequency of substance abuse, advocate for positive change within their schools and communities and promote healthy decision making.
Rouff expained that the Rotary has already sent students from 11 schools, and she anticipates at least six more schools will take part.
A third action plan for the funds is to ensure there are enough prescription drop boxes in the region.
“Often, unsused medication is left lying around,” Rouff said.
“Both Cortland and Chenango counties have sufficient boxes, while Broome County has four.”
The Rotary is in the process of placing drop boxes for prescription drugs at Binghamton University and in Walton.
The fourth component discussed by Rouff is the launch of a multi-county media campaign that is specific to the audience that may be most at risk of opioid addiction.
Rouff said the campaign will address many aspects of the epidemic, including prevention, treatment and recovery.
“The use of a media campaign is the most common, evidence-based strategy,” Rouff said.
The launch will take place this Saturday, with collaboration with RSBA Advertising.
Rouff explained that Facebook ads and YouTube videos will be used to target the at-risk audience.
She said that based on research, digital marketing makes the most sense.
“The millennial generation does not watch TV,” Rouff said. “They use their mobile devices.”
She did add, however, that the campaign will not only be Facebook and YouTube based, and that ads will be placed in print, on the radio, television and in brochures that will be distributed throughout the community.
Source: Press Connects