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Girl Scouts try to earn drug abuse awareness badge at ETSU pharmacy college

Jennifer Sprouse • Jan 21, 2013 at 2:02 PM

About 80 Girl Scouts took over East Tennessee State University’s Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy Saturday morning, and they weren’t trying to sell cookies.

In fact, the Scouts –– made up of Daisies, Brownies, Juniors and Cadettes –– were at the college to pursue yet another badge — Generation Rx Awareness — to add to their vast assortment of achievements.

Jake Peters, second-year pharmacy student and committee chair for Generation Rx, said the group “focuses on prescription drug abuse and educating the community about what it is and how we can help ourselves and help those around us to avoid the situation or get help for those that have fallen into that trap.”

Peters said the group of pharmacy students visit middle and high schools, as well as colleges, because the topic of drug abuse affects every age group and said that’s why they were especially excited to host the Girl Scouts Saturday.

“We just knew that with the Girl Scouts being such a long-standing organization and having such a huge base of people, that we could reach a lot of people and really affect a lot of lives,” he said.

Dr. Robin M. Henry, director for experiential education for the College of Pharmacy, adviser for the American Pharmacists’ Academy of Student Pharmacists and assistant leader for a Jonesborough troop, said the girls arrived at the college at 8:30 a.m. for registration and then were divided into groups.

“We started out the day by either working on the badge, which is a Generation Rx badge, or by making (lip balm),” Henry said. “My particular group –– I’m with the Daisies and Brownies –– we’ve been downstairs making (lip balm). You pick your flavor, pick your color, add glitter, the whole nine yards. The girls have had a very good time with that.”

She said around 35 pharmacy students were assisting the Generation Rx program Saturday, helping to move the girls from group to group, making friendship bracelets, as well as working in the compounding lab with the lip balm.

“The girls seem to enjoy it and the adults are enjoying it as well, so we’ve had a good time so far,” Henry said. “They’re very engaged and the lab was wonderful. We had about 40 girls down there plus the pharmacy students and it was very well organized.”

Outside the lab, the girls packed into a classroom to run through scenarios concerning drug use. Some questions revolved around whether it’s smart to take medicine from a friend and what could potentially go wrong by taking a pill that’s not specifically prescribed to them.

Cara Copeland, creator of the Generation Rx Awareness badge and second-year pharmacy student, has an extensive career as a Girl Scout and led the discussions with her younger sisters of service.

“I’ve been in Girl Scouts ever since first grade and so I earned my Gold Award in 2007 and my project was ‘Health for Life,’ so I’ve always been interested in how nutrition and other supplements can affect the body,” she said.

“Generation Rx is with the American Pharmacists Association and it’s a new project here at the Gatton College of Pharmacy,” Copeland said. “My first thought to getting it out into the community was Girl Scouts, because Girl Scouts has helped me become who I am today and I just think ... giving that information to the girls, then they can further give that information and reach out into the community, because that is part of what a Girl Scout is.”

She said the girls participating in Saturday’s program were very interested in the topic, freely telling stories and sharing their own thoughts regarding medications, abuse and who they should accept medications from and who they shouldn’t.

“They just need to learn how to deal with those situations and so scenarios like this is definitely a way to help the girls do that,” Copeland said.

According to Henry, there are five steps Girl Scouts have to complete to be awarded any badge, which includes connecting with one another, discovering something new and learning something during the process.

“The girls are completing all five steps today and whenever they finish with the program today, they will have earned the (Generation Rx Awareness) badge,” she said. “This is the first time that this program has been offered to the Girl Scouts with a badge associated with it and ETSU is hoping that the badge will go nationwide. We’ve actually got some students here from UNC-Asheville helping us today, so they will be able to take some of this back to their campus and hopefully offer this program to the girls in their area as well.”

Henry said she had fun working with the girls and the school is excited to give back to the community.

“The College of Pharmacy is very pleased and very happy to be able to offer this service. We feel very connected to the community and we want to give back, so this is just a small way of opening our building up and our faculty are here, our students are here and we know that we would not be here if it weren’t for the community,” she said.

Copeland said the creation of the badge is a small token of appreciation for an organization that gave her so much, and that she would like to see that program be an annual or every semester event.

“I’m here for the Girl Scouts. They’ve done so much for me and I want to continue that support system because they helped me grow and I want to help them grow and that’s what it (Girls Scouts) is about. It’s about helping others,” she said.

For more information on the Gatton College of Pharmacy’s Generation Rx, visit their website at http://gattoncopgenerationrx.weebly.com.

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