Utah Teachers Needed for Developing Curriculum about Opioids and Opioid Addiction

Media Statement

For Immediate Release:
September 19, 2018

Ross Chambless, Communications Specialist
Utah House Democratic Caucus
(801) 326-1568 | rosschambless@le.utah.gov 

Julie Kiefer, Manager, Science Communications
University of Utah Health
(801) 587-1293   julie.kiefer@hsc.utah.edu 

Utah Teachers Needed for Developing Curriculum about Opioids and Opioid Addiction

SALT LAKE CITY – Grade 8 –12 science and health teachers from across the state are invited to participate in a workshop to help develop curriculum materials that address opioids and opioid addiction.

During the 2018 General Session, the legislature appropriated $150,000 of one-time funding for the development of a curriculum to teach secondary school students about opioids and opioid addiction. The Genetic Science Learning Center (GSLC) at the University of Utah (UU) will use these funds to update their existing materials on addiction, as well as develop new opioid-specific materials. The opioid-specific curriculum will join the other free-to-use, evidence-based teaching materials on the GSLC’sLearn.Genetics.utah.edu website, which is used in nearly all Utah high schools.

“We’re finally investing in prevention of drug abuse through knowledge rather than just managing the symptoms,” said Representative Joel Briscoe (D-District 25), who helped shepherd the appropriation through the legislature last session. “Utah has spent millions of dollars on law enforcement and treatment to combat the Opioid Crisis. I’m excited that we’re now being proactive to help young people understand and avoid the risks of drug addiction.”

Fliers about the curriculum workshop have been sent to teachers statewide, including targeted invitations to teachers or district science coordinators in counties with the top six overdose death rates. Nationally, Utah has ranked high compared to other states for drug overdose deaths but recently overdose deaths have been decreasing, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Engaging teachers is such an important part of our curriculum development process,” said Amy J. Hawkins, a Postdoctoral Fellow with the GSLC. “They know the standards, they know their students, and they'll be sensitive to issues we might not be aware of. We want teachers to bring us their ideas and perspectives from their various communities. Once we understand what educators need, we can bring their ideas to life online through engaging visuals and interactive content.”

During the workshop, participants will learn from UU researchers and other professionals about the latest science behind pain, opioids, and addiction. They will then develop ideas for classroom materials that address these topics while also meeting state health and science standards. Participants will receive a $500 stipend, meals, mileage compensation, and lodging. The curriculum development workshop will occur during the scheduled UEA week, October 18 – 20, 2018, in Salt Lake City.

More information, including an application for teachers, is available athttps://www.research.net/r/addictionsci 

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