FAIRBORN, Ohio (WDTN) – A program hosted by Wright State Wednesday aims to bring drug abuse prevention into classrooms. Teachers, counselors and school administrators from around the Miami Valley attended a workshop to learn about the HOPE Curriculum.

HOPE, which stands for Health and Opioid-Abuse Prevention Education, is a set of resources, teaching materials and lesson plans to schools to bring to K-12 health education.

Together with an Ohio Governor’s program called Start Talking, facilitators for HOPE helped participants develop school plans for drug abuse prevention.

“We just want to encourage conversations with boys and girls about the importance of being drug-free,” said Sarah Moore, director of Start Talking.

HOPE Curriculum project director and Wright State Professor Kevin Lorson said schools can play an influential role in raising awareness around the region’s opioid crisis.

“Schools spend a lot of time with kids and they are a key asset,” Lorson said. “They also reach out to parents and the community, so at the end of the day, they are probably the foundation for developing some of these healthy skills.”

Rhonda Mercs is the director for an organization called ECHO (Empowering Children with Hope and Opportunity) that works with schools across the Miami Valley. She said it’s not unusual to encounter students whose lives have already been affected by drugs.

“It just seemed for a while there like we were losing a parent (to a drug overdose) probably every couple of months in the schools that we serve – if not a parent, a family member,” Mercs said. “Kids would even act out some of the things (drug use) they were seeing in their home.”

Start Talking points to national research suggesting children who talk to a trusted adult about being drug free are up to 50 percent less likely to use drugs.

Educators at Wednesday’s workshop hope by starting those conversations at an early age, they can start to tackle the opioid crisis.

Tippecanoe Middle School Health Education teacher Jennifer Brown said, “If we can get ahead of it, we can start to get them to make better choices early on so they don’t even have this as an issue.”

You can find more resources about talking to your child about drugs here.