Chesapeake College Big Purple Day unites Shore
WYE MILLS — Chesapeake College faculty and staff hosted Big Purple Day at the Wye Mills campus on Monday inviting students to stand up against substance abuse.
Representatives from Go Purple campaigns, including sheriffs from Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s and Talbot counties were on campus at the Caroline Center to share educational materials with students. They helped those seeking more information on substance abuse prevention, counseling and treatment resources available for family members and friends.
This is year two for the initiative in Talbot County. Dorchester, Queen Anne’s, Caroline and Kent counties went purple for the first time this year to fight the opioid crisis.
“I hope the college students take away that we raise the awareness about the opioid epidemic, the path to addiction and how people become addicted,” said Talbot County Sheriff Joe Gamble. “We care about them, and we are here because we want to educate them and lower the addiction rates.”
According to the Maryland Department of Health, there were 2,282 drug and alcoholrelated intoxication deaths in the state in 2017 — 2,009 of those were opioid-related. Preliminary data from the first three months of 2018 indicate there were 653 unintentional drug- and alcoholrelated intoxication deaths in Maryland. There were 579 opioid-related deaths, 500 of which involved fentanyl.
The American College Health Association stated in its 2016 guideline report, “Opioid Prescribing in College Health,” that between 7 and 12 percent of college students reported using opioids for non-medical reasons and 2 to 3 percent reported moving from using prescription opioids to heroin.
Chesapeake College has been “Purple” throughout September with informational signage and events. There is colored lighting through- out campus and members of the school community have been wearing purple and engaging in discussions on substance abuse.
“We have a very strong partnership with our local law enforcement because of our rural location,” said Chesapeake College President Clifford Coppersmith. “The Mid-Shore has had a lot of problems. It is a problem for all ages, but particularly for young people, it is a real challenge. Going purple brings attention to because it destigmatizes getting help.”
Kent County Sheriff John F. Price said Big Purple Day would be an opportunity for the Mid-Shore to unite as a whole, rather than separated by county.
“Kent Goes Purple and all of the purple campaigns on the Shore give an opportunity to engage all of the community,” said Price. “We are very honored that Chesapeake College could display to the college community exactly what we are doing in Kent County.”
The Queen Anne’s County Sheriff’s Office and the Chesapeake College Macqueen Gibbs Willis Nursing Program Class of 2019 helped individuals safely dispose of old and unused prescriptions during the Big Purple Day event.
Keeping unused medications such as opioids in the home can lead to theft and abuse. When flushed down the toilet or thrown in the trash, medications can contaminate the environment and water supply.
Students, faculty and staff also had the opportunity to participate in Narcan train- ing and were taught how to administer the life-saving medication to overdose victims.
Queen Anne’s County Sheriff Gary Hofmann spoke about the importance of bringing awareness efforts to schools, making the com- munity outreach effort more complete.
Caroline County Sheriff Randy Bounds is proud to see the growth the purple campaign has carried in its second year. Although it is the first year of Caroline County, Bounds said it is great to drive around and see the Mid-Shore community participating in events, including displaying purple lights.
“The community has been engaged on a much larger scale than we have anticipated in our first wave of this,” Bounds said. “We often assume that many people are aware of the situation; and we found out that going out and speaking with the public (that) they are truly not aware of the extent the abuse of opioids and how that leads to heroin abuse or illegal use of heroin. Talbot did a good job of setting the bar high, and give us big shoes to fill.”
Dorchester County Sheriff James Phillips shared the same sentiment as Bounds and emphasized the importance of approaching the community in a different way about the opioid crisis.
“It’s important to reach out to the community because it has not been working out the way we have been doing things,” Phillips said. “I hope that those who attend today’s event learn to stay away from opioids.”
From left, Talbot County Sheriff Joe Gamble, Lucie Hughes of Tidewater Rotary, Caroline County Sheriff Randy Bounds, Caroline Goes Purple Project Manager Jennifer Farina, Kent County Sheriff John Price, Chestertown Rotararian Andrew Meehan, Queen Anne’s County Sheriff Gary Hofmann, Queen Anne’s County Chamber of Commerce President Linda Friday, Dorchester County Sheriff James Phillips and Dorchester County Chamber of Commerce President Bill Christopher unite for Big Purple Day at Chesapeake College.