Wareham Middle School students to raise funds, awareness for opioid crisis

By Matthew Bernat | Aug 08, 2017
Photo by: Matthew Bernat Wareham Middle School student Josiah Andersen contributed this photograph and text for a display illustrating the opioid crisis at the CARE Fair, set for Aug. 17.

When a group of Wareham Middle School students started researching the opioid crisis for a class project, one thing stood: the issue’s massive scope.

“We didn’t realize how bad it was until we started learning about it,” said Andrew Nee, who starts fifth grade in September.

According to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, opioid-related overdose deaths increased every year since 2010 when 532 deaths were reported. In 2015, 1,596 overdose deaths were reported statewide. In Wareham, there were two opioid-related deaths reported in 2010 and 15 reported last year.

Nee is one of 13 students participating in a service learning project as part of the district’s summer CARE Program. The CARE program, which stands for Community, Academic, Recreation and Enrichment, serves students in kindergarten through eighth grade and runs weekdays. It is funded through the national 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant.

For the service learning project, students research an issue and then decide on a course of action, explained teacher Deanna Semple.

“The project is completely student driven,” said Semple.

The students will soon raise awareness for the opioid crisis and money for the Brent Hastings Memorial Fund. Founded by Wareham resident Melodye Conway, the fund supports substance use disorder education and recovery programs. It’s namesake is Conway’s son, who passed away from a heroin overdose in 2014.

Students will have a table set up at the CARE Fair, which offers all students in the program a place to showcase what they’ve been working on over the summer.

In addition to raising money, Semple's students will have a display set up featuring photographs and text illustrating what they’ve learned about addiction.

“I see that you are falling as you get off drugs,” wrote Josiah Andersen. “You really don’t have control over what you do when you are on drugs. No one realizes what the real cost is.”

The CARE Fair will be held on Aug. 17 at Wareham Middle School starting at 9 a.m. with activities continuing through the afternoon. The public is welcome to attend.

Julie Phillips and Shawn Kimball practice a skit students wrote on the dangers of opioid use that will be performed on Aug. 17. (Photo by: Matthew Bernat)
Comments (2)
Posted by: Wareham By The Sea | Aug 10, 2017 13:58

I'm usually able to form an opinion but not on this one. Part of me feels that this participation and awareness at such a young age is a good thing.  Part of me feels that little kids not even in the 5th grade shouldn't have to worry about something so awful. Oh well, just sharing my thoughts...



Posted by: 181mph | Aug 10, 2017 16:22

you are correct WBTS, they shouldn't have to worry, but unfortunately this is exactly what is needed, if just one child out of this whole group is saved from the opiate problem, then it's worth it, but programs such as this will benefit more than just that one child



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