BERLIN – Committee members of the Worcester County Warriors Against Opiate Addiction spent Monday evening discussing effective educational approaches that worked in 2016 and vetting additional resources for students and parents to utilize in the future.
In an education committee meeting, Warriors co-founder Jackie Ball met with community members to finalize plans for upcoming assemblies, conferences and meetings.
The Warriors are currently working with school officials to arrange assembly times for speaker Michael DeLeon, a former drug dealer and homicide witness, to share his views and experiences with drugs to students in middle and high school.
Tamara Mills, coordinator for health instruction for Worcester County Public Schools, said four of the six middle and high schools are on board to host the speaker at the end of February, but relayed the principals’ concerns about the effectiveness of this assembly.
“Most of them agreed with the consensus that assemblies are a hit or miss,” she said. “They are not everyone’s favorite form of delivery. But they think it can’t hurt.”
Ball agreed with Mills, but said dynamic speakers are a foot in the door to reaching students.
“One single thing doesn’t do it,” Ball said. “But it’s nice to have a combination and different speakers are going to move different people.”
Ball and Mills will now reach out to DeLeon to confirm assembly dates from Feb. 27 to March 1, and said Worcester County State’s Attorney Beau Oglesby asked the Drug and Alcohol Commission to allot money for school speakers such as DeLeon. Ball said the commission must now go to the Worcester County Commissioners for funds.
“Even if it’s one person that you reached, that is certainly something,” Mills said.
Ball said DeLeon will go to each of the six middle and high schools over a three-day period.
“I want to get into the other schools,” Ball said. “But the hardest thing, and I am sure that they would be receptive to it, is manpower.”
The Warriors have a strong presence in northern Worcester County, according to Ball. But she said the committee lacks the manpower to attend back-to-school nights and parent-teacher conferences in Snow Hill and Pocomoke.
“I feel like it’s not fair for Worcester County,” Ball said. “Our mission is to do the whole county, and it’s just easiest for us to do this area.”
At Mills’ suggestion, the Warriors are looking to partner with Pocomoke Drug Free Coalition to place volunteers in Pocomoke and Snow Hill schools to hand out informational cards at various school functions.
“We need to work together because we all kind of have the same mission,” Ball said. “We just need more people to help us get the message out.”
Also in the meeting, Ball spoke with former drama teacher Gwen Lehman about the possibility of producing or directing a school play on drug abuse next year.
Lehman said she developed decision-based school plays for Worcester Youth and Family Counseling Services in the past and will look into the possibility of doing another.
“We all rely on drugs all the time,” Lehman said. “We don’t lie down and rest when we have a headache. We take a pill and keep going.”
Mills said she would look into productions from the state school system for Lehman and the Warriors to read.
Lastly, Ball discussed the possibility of working with Worcester County Public Schools Athletics Director Tyrone Mills and other recreational services in the county next year to educate coaches, parents and students on the dangers of taking opiates for sports-related injuries.
“When it’s prescribed by a doctor, you don’t question it,” attendee Carol Frazier said. “For me, that is the purpose of this committee. It is to get people to question and not just accept it.”