CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A group of white-coated pharmacy students from the University of Charleston visited Richmond Elementary School in South Charleston on Oct. 9.

Their mission? To inspire a new generation of “Pharmacy Heroes.” The first-year pharmacy students are part of a program called Generation Rx.

“We’re going into third-grade classrooms to tell them about medication safety and where medications should be stored — we want to make it fun,” said UC pharmacy student Rajveer Kaur.

Pharmacy student Rachel Rucker said students in the third grade are at the age when they can begin to grasp the importance of medication safety.

“When they get older, they can apply the things that we teach them now,” Rucker said.

Rucker said the UC Pharmacy program has been sending first-year students into area schools for about three years.

The importance of medication safety has been brought more into the forefront recently because of the state’s opioid addiction problem.

“That’s one of the reasons, but we’re also trying to educate the children to take their medications the right and safe way and not to take someone else’s medicine,” Rucker said.

Using a PowerPoint presentation, the UC pharmacy students taught the third-graders the difference between prescribed medications and over-the-counter medications.

The pharmacy students also brought prescription bottles with them with various “super-hero” names on them.

“We go over what to look for on the pill bottle — the name of the drug, the usage and how you’re supposed to take it,” Rucker said. “We pass them around so that they’ll know what they’re supposed to look for.”

About 12 groups of first-year UC Pharmacy students are visiting area schools in the coming months. Richmond Elementary was the first stop for Rucker and her group.

In speaking with her fellow pharmacy students who have already made some school visits, Rucker is encouraged by their interactions with the young students.

The third-graders “seem to be really interested in it, and they ask a lot of questions.”

That’s especially so, when it comes to the safety of their pets at home. Keeping household pets away from humans’ medications is another topic the students touch on.

“Most of the kids can relate to their pets not wanting to get a hold of something and then get sick and have to go the vet. That helps them relate.”

As part of the UC pharmacy students’ presentation, the Richmond Elementary third-graders were given a multiple choice “pre-test” to determine their knowledge of medication safety.

There were also “True” or “False” questions such as the following:

— You should never take medicine from a prescription bottle that does not have your name on it.

The answer is “True.”

During a question-and-answer session with the third-graders, the pharmacy students asked them about safe places to keep medicines.

The children yelled out their answers to such questions as “Is the kitchen counter a safe place to store medicines?”

With exuberance that brought smiles to the pharmacy students, the children yelled out a collective “No!”

According to the UC School of Pharmacy website, Generation Rx was developed in collaboration with the Cardinal Health Foundation, the American Pharmacists Association and the Ohio State University School of Pharmacy.

The Generation Rx curriculum is designed to increase public awareness of prescription medication abuse and medication safety. The program also encourages health-care providers, community leaders, parents, teenagers and college students to actively work to prevent abuse.


Information from: The Charleston Gazette-Mail, http://wvgazettemail.com.