Volunteering and participating in service projects are two of the most rewarding activities in my opinion. Some people may find it was a hassle or only do it because they have to meet the minimum requirement for school or work. Helping others, for me, has always been somewhat second nature to me. Over many years of volunteering I believe I have developed qualities that will stick with me for life and benefit me in my career. As early as freshman year, in high school, I found myself looking for ways to give back. I started by looking for opportunities within school, where I came across the A+ tutoring program, and so my journey of giving back began. While tutoring, my patience for others really evolved, partly by choice and partly because it had to. I was always searching for community programs to be a part of that could help me evolve as a person and at the same time raise awareness to important issues. I think overall one of the biggest lessons I learned while being a part of these groups, was to try to make yourself and your community a better environment for your peers. After high school I still volunteered for a local group that tutored and mentored inner-city schools, but it wasn’t until recently that I discovered a superior problem requiring immediate service in our community. The heroin epidemic.Order now
‘Heroin is an opioid drug that is synthesized from morphine, a naturally occurring substance extracted from the seed pod of the Asian opium poppy plant.” (Heroin) The deadly drug has been around since the 1850’s; it was a leading causing death then and is heading to be one again now. Heroin use is on the rise due to how cheap, easy, and pure it is. In the past year alone, I have personally known three people that have died because of a heroin overdose. “Statistics data from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services indicate that the number of deaths in Missouri residents because of heroin overdose has increased significantly within the last four years from 69 cases in 2007 to 167 in 2009, and 190 in 2010.”(Facts) In the St. Louis area at least one person is killed a week because of this drug. You would think that people would stop using when they hear the statistics, or when they see their friend die because of it, but the truth is they can’t stop because they are already addicted. Alison, a young girl using states, “From the day I started using, I never stopped. “Within one week I had gone from snorting heroin to shooting it. Within one month I was addicted and going through all my money.” (International) The expanding epidemic of unawareness is taking its toll on the adolescents of St. Louis City, St. Louis County, and the rest of the world. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs makes it somewhat easier to understand why people use heroin. The top three levels of the pyramid, 1.social 2.esteem 3.self-actualization, show what people are trying to get out of using.
Most people will begin using due to peer pressure and trying to fit in. What kids do not realize is that the first time using could lead to addiction. So they will continue using because it makes them feel better about themselves, it becomes a part of who they are. Pretty soon they look around and realize heroin is the only thing they have left, because everyone else has left. These problems teens are facing here in Missouri are the same ones they are facing all over the world. A recent statistic from the International Statistics of Heroin Addiction & Abuse reports that over 9 million people in the world are using heroin. (International) You read stories every day of kids, teenagers, adults, celebrities, mothers, and fathers all who have gotten their hands dirty with the drug and eventually die because of it. “Just as rock stars helped popularize LSD during the 1960s, so have some fashion designers, photographers and advertising people of today influenced an entire generation of youth, by portraying heroin use in magazines and music videos as fashionable and even desirable.”(Trying Heroin) Celebrities such as Russell Brand, Kurt Cobain, and recently passed Philip Seymour Hoffman and Cory Monteith all used and suffered the tragic effects of heroin. People have yet to realize and comprehend the devastating effects, or at least that is what I think, because why else would you put yourself through that?
Most recently in the St. Louis area The Heroin Awareness Campaign was started. The absence of heroin awareness and the recent spikes in heroin related arrest cause the NCADA to get involved. “Because of the increased use of heroin in the area and the resulting overdose deaths, the National Council on Alcoholism & Drug Abuse – St. Louis Area approached the Missouri Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse and asked for help in finding ways to increase awareness about the dangers and realities of heroin in the Greater St. Louis Area.” (Curiosity)
Although, the campaign is taking great strides to help the cause I believe a more forward approach is in need. Young adults, the future leaders of our country, are not aware what is in store for them if they choose the path of heroin. My idea consists of a three parts, first would be actually raising money for the cause. The money would go to helping kids become informed on heroin. This could be done by bringing recovering heroin addicts to their school to address the problem. Second, money would also be spent on implementing a lesson into each secondary schools health class specific to heroin. The last of the money would be spent on rehabilitating students who are drug addicts and have asked for help, because although heroin is the main target with this plan it is important to remember so many other drugs exist and affect people in this world.
There is a lot to my plan, so I believe we would start out with just focusing on raising money to bring a speaker to the schools. To raise most of the money a fundraising event called ‘Knocking out Heroin’, a boxing tournament, could be organized so that members of the community could help with the cause. There would be a silent auction, all products donated from local businesses, donations from people betting on who is to win the match, and personal community members wanting to help raise awareness and money towards the cause could donate. The money raised from this annual event would be put towards the speaker, changing school curriculum, and helping students in need. Donations for the cause and event could come from local vendors. The best way to get the message out would be to send out form letters explaining what the donation is for and our desired goals for the project. I would send form letters to businesses within a 20 mile radius, for more local and smaller businesses I would hand deliver. I have learned from experience that matching a face to a letter leads for a better result.
The first part of our money raised would be spent on, the speaker that would go to the high schools and give a presentation would be a recovering heroin addict, although this may be controversial to bring someone like this to the St. Louis City and County schools, I believe the benefits of hearing his or her stories would outweigh the negative effects. I think from a high school student’s perspective they would appreciate and connect more with an experience such as this rather than an after school special video or a pamphlet explaining the cons of drug abuse. The second part of my service learning project consists of changing the curriculum in our secondary school system. The process of doing this is quite tedious. It includes having a group of teacher’s support, getting permission from the coordinator, providing results that the new curriculum is effective, and many more steps; the plan for this is a long-term goal type plan. I believe over the course of a year, we could have this curriculum put into schools and be supported by the school boards. The third part of my project is helping kids in the local schools receive help if they have a drug problem. My outreach program would include giving said students names of doctors who help with addiction, or facilities that offer affordable rehab programs. I would hope for a peer mentor program to also develop between willing students. This means that students, not particularly from same schools, could buddy up to help and learn from each other. The last two parts of my SLP are more of long-term goals I hope to achieve once I have established and made a name for the project as a whole. Also, with sponsors and donations steadily coming in, it would be easier to perform the second parts of the project.
In hopes of raising the most awareness and trying to prevent as many deaths as we can, I would initially try and create a uniform front with the existing Heroin Awareness Campaign website. This website is a campaign for heroin awareness that started “because of the increased use of heroin in the area and the resulting overdose deaths, the National Council on Alcoholism & Drug Abuse – St. Louis Area approached the Missouri Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse and asked for help in finding ways to increase awareness about the dangers and realities of heroin in the Greater St. Louis Area. The Division provided funding to allow NCADA to launch the Curiosity + Heroin: Not Even Once campaign.” (Curiosity) They are a campaign that has taken imitative to raise awareness; I think pairing with them would help both of us in the long-run. I think starting out by working with this campaign would ease the process of getting my project off the ground. They already have established connections and support from the NCADA, a respectable foundation, with them supporting my project it would be easier to perform the second part of the project.
Success of this type of service learning project could be hard to accurately measure, but I do believe we could somewhat determine its effectiveness. Following the statistics of drug overdose due to heroin in St. Louis city could give some headway to as if the project is actually producing real results. Another possibility to measure effectiveness could be anonymous before and after surveys. They could collect data on what people know about the drug, who has or hasn’t used it, and who would be willing to try it. Assessing what you’re dealing with beforehand could lead for a better result in the long run and possibly save lives.
My service learning project requires a lot of determination and patience on my part. It will require a “strong team environment with people who share the same expectations and goals as me.” Distributed leadership between about ten people would be beneficial to accomplishing a lot of work in a short amount of time. I know I will be in charge of downward communication during most parts of the project, but I believe openly welcoming upward communication could result in a better outcome. Brainstorming from different types of people provides for finding the best ways to do a specific task. I would hope to create an organizational culture that people in other communities would like to mimic. Starting in St. Louis could be only the beginning, spreading the message nationwide and executing the same ideas could produce a great outcome and potentially save thousands of lives. For this particular SLP, I think it will teach me a lot of qualities about volunteering and changing a community, qualities that will carry over into my career. My team skills and ability to be patient would most certainly be strengthened during the length of this project. Overall I believe any SLP you choose to do should be something you are passionate about, something you know you can change by exerting hard work. (Lehman)
“Curiosity + Heroin: Not Even Once – About.” Curiosity + Heroin : Not Even Once – About. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Mar. 2014.
“Facts & Stats About Heroin.” Surburban Junky. N.p., 2011. Web.
“Heroin.” National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Mar. 2014.
“International Statistics of Heroin Addiction & Abuse, High School Students and Youth: Foundation for a Drug Free World.” International Statistics of Heroin Addiction & Abuse, High School Students and Youth: Foundation for a Drug Free World. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Mar. 2014.
Lehman, Carol M., and Deborah Daniel DuFrene. BCOM. Mason, OH: South-Western, 2013. Print.
“Trying Heroin Once, Addiction, Abuse & Experimentation: Foundation for a Drug Free World.” Trying Heroin Once, Addiction, Abuse & Experimentation: Foundation for a Drug Free World. N.p., 2006. Web. 11 Mar. 2014.