SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — The COVID-19 pandemic is subsiding but one thing that is not is the opioid crisis. In 2020 there was a 15% increase in drug overdoses in Southwest Missouri.
However, Missouri is utilizing a certain prevention program to keep these numbers from rising.
The Discovery Center in Springfield received $250,000 for its Science Behind Opioids program.
Science can be a fun subject for students since especially when it comes to experiments. However, Jack Belvins is learning about a specific topic and that topic is opioids.
“Kids don’t really how heavy or important a topic is,” said Rob Blevins, executive director of the Discovery Center.
The Science Opioids Program is teaching kids the dangers of misusing drugs.
“We got some pills and then like put it in a thing and then we smashed it up and put it in water,” said Jack. “And then we figured out if it was going to be healthy or not healthy.”
Rob put his child, Jack, into the program at the Discovery Center.
“You want to keep a kid on a good track,” said Rob. “You want to keep them off of the bad track.”
Rob isn’t the only one who is in support of this program, Missouri legislators do too.
“I started learning about it in elementary school,” said Rep. Curtis Trent. ” I mean we’ve had a lot of different programs throughout the state.”
The program D.A.R.E. ended back in 2009, but State Rep. Trent and Rep. Alex Riley are looking to keep this program around.
“It’s always a little challenging to fund any particular item,” said Rep. Riley. ” But this was an item that there was a lot of support for opioid education.”
That funding is a part of the State of Missouri’s 2022 Budget.
“My hope is that this could be a model that could be used in other places around the state,” said Rep. Trent.
Rob says roughly 700 kids have completed the program and hopes to increase that number to 10,000 or more.