By Rebecca Rakoczy
COVINGTON, Ga. — Students at Newton High School recently unveiled a mural celebrating their #NOpiods campaign.
The two-year campaign, which also featured skits, T-shirts, posters and a student-produced public service announcement, began in 2019 and carried through the pandemic.
The campaign was a collaboration between Georgia State University Perimeter College and honors students at the high school, and was supported by a statewide initiative called College-Adopt-A-School, funded through a $117,500 grant from the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities, the opioid authority in Georgia.
As part of the grant, Georgia State Newton Campus students mentored the high school students to develop a drug awareness program at the school. The program was aimed at making them more comfortable about talking about the dangers of opioid abuse.
Newton Campus instructors Tami Thomas, assistant professor of criminal justice, and Mary Beth Davison, assistant professor of anatomy and physiology, guided the college students leading the effort.
Opioids are synthetic or partially synthetic manufactured drugs that mimic the properties of opiates. In 2018, the Georgia Department of Public Health reported 1,043 deaths from opioids, including fentanyl and heroin.
The students did the work, led by Erica Mickens, Newton High School counselor.
“Faculty were supportive and encouraged the students to freely express their desire for a drug-free community,” said Davison, who worked in a supervisory role during weekly meetings and the PSA videotaping sessions. “These students were committed to this project, always being on their best behavior and contributing with their hearts and minds,” she said.
The student-produced PSAs were broadcast during morning announcements, viewable to both the on-campus and home school students during the spring 2021 semester.
The community can view the PSAs at the #NOPIOIDS site through their Instagram account at https://www.instagram.com/nopioids.newton/