The West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission (WVSSAC) recently announced Walmart has donated $50,000 in support of the organization’s first Opioid Awareness Summit aimed at empowering teens with the knowledge and tools to fight against abuse and make healthy choices.
The two-day event is scheduled for September 17 at the West Virginia Coliseum in Morgantown and Sept. 18 at Marshall University’s Cam Henderson Center in Huntington and will include presentations from national and international experts on opioid awareness, prevention and treatment. The summit will also feature former NBA star Chris Herren, inspirational speaker Rhonda Sciortino and youth empowerment performer Shaun Derik. More than 150,000 middle and high school students from across West Virginia are expected to attend or watch it online via a live stream.
“Walmart is proud to support WVSSAC and its efforts to provide students the tools and knowledge to fight opioid use in their communities and throughout the state of West Virginia,” said Nemish Shah, Walmart’s regional director of Health and Wellness and a trained pharmacist himself. “The students who will take part in this event are our leaders of tomorrow. We appreciate their recognition of the power that comes from working with their peers and a shared commitment to making a positive change in our great state.”
No state has been hit harder by the opioid crisis than West Virginia which has the highest rate of opioid-related overdose deaths in the United States. According to Bernie Dolan, WVSSAC executive director, the Summit is the official kick off of a three to five-year initiative aimed at providing prevention education and fostering the growth of a peer-to-peer support system that will give students the knowledge to make informed decisions when it comes to their overall health and wellness.
“Having the support from businesses like Walmart gives us the critical ability to engage more students across the state and enable them to become ‘game changers’ for the future of West Virginia” Dolan said. “To make a difference in the lives of our younger generation, we have to reach every county and every community and organizations like Walmart are enabling us to do just that.”
In addition to supporting initiatives like WVSSAC’s Opioid Awareness Summit, Walmart has implemented its own policies and programs aimed at curbing opioid abuse and misuse. In 2018 the retailer began offering free opioid disposal solution, DisposeRx, in all its pharmacies. Walmart and Sam’s Club also began restricting initial acute opioid prescriptions to no more than a seven-day supply. In addition, by early 2020, the two companies will start requiring e-prescriptions for controlled substances to prevent erroneous or fraudulent prescriptions.