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Training the helpers

Counselors, others focus of OUS opioid program

Ohio University Southern recently had an opioid workshop that focused on helping those who help those impacted by the Tri-State’s drug crisis.

The training, called “Impact of the Opioid Epidemic on Children in Rural Appalachia,” was designed specifically for people working education, mental health, social work, counseling, foster care, addiction recovery, health care, law enforcement, child welfare and other disciplines.

People in these fields are facing new and unexpected challenges related to the impact of substance abuse on children and families.

“All communities are affected by the opioid epidemic,” said Sarah Diamond Burroway, director of Ohio University Southern’s Workforce Success initiative. “This training assists employers in southeast Ohio and surrounding communities with access to special topics they need to be more effective in their work. Employers generally don’t have huge training budgets, so that’s why Ohio University Southern is pleased to offer this resource to our workforce.”

The feature presentation was by author Wendy Welch, Ph.D. who spoke about the new challenges brought about by substance use disorder throughout Appalachia.

For her new book, “Fall or Fly: The Strangely Hopeful Story of Foster Care and Adoption in Rural Appalachia,” Welch interviewed more than 70 people in rural communities on how opioids and substance use disorder have created new stresses for children in foster care and their families.

There was also a segment about KRUSH: Kids Rising Up through Support and Healing presented by its co-creators, Kristi Whitaker and Jalina Wheeler.

KRUSH started in the Russell McDowell Intermediate School in Flatwoods, Kentucky, to assist students whose parents are jailed, in most cases, due to drug-related charges.

Since 2017, the program has been expanded to additional schools in the Russell district. Wheeler and Whitaker are working with other districts in the Tri-State interested in expanding the KRUSH model in their schools.

Nicole Pennington, dean of Ohio Southern and interim dean for Regional Higher Education, said the campus is committed to being the area’s source for workforce training.

“It is vital to ensure that our helping industries receive continuous professional development as they work together to assist our community as we strive to rebound from the opioid crisis,” she said.

The training series was funded by a Rural Business Development grant from the United States Department of Agriculture.

For more information about Workforce Success at OUS, contact Sarah Diamond Burroway at 740-533-4593.