ISSUED: 10 November 2016
MEDIA CONTACT: Valerie Owens
SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV — Shepherd University is partnering with Berkeley County Schools and the Martinsburg Police Department on The Martinsburg Initiative, an effort to stem the opioid addiction problem by identifying and trying to eliminate the basic causes of drug abuse in at-risk families.
“This is a great opportunity for Shepherd to work with the schools, police, and the community on this very important and unique initiative,” said Dr. Virginia Hicks, assistant provost for academic and community outreach and a member of The Martinsburg Initiative executive board.
“We value our strong relationships with schools and with the community,” Hicks said. “We have faculty, staff, and students who are very willing through this initiative to help children, families, and the community be stronger and healthier.”
The Martinsburg Initiative is based on a Centers for Disease Control study that shows adverse childhood experiences have a negative impact on a child’s physical and mental health, cognitive and social development, and ability to function in society. Traumatic experiences a child may suffer include physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, domestic violence, alcohol and drug abuse, divorce, and incarceration of a family member.
The Martinsburg Police Department and Berkeley County Schools are piloting the program at two elementary schools—Burke Street and Winchester Avenue. Faculty, staff, and students from several departments will participate by providing technical services and volunteers. Shepherd will also create an objective assessment study instrument and evaluation mechanism that will be used to monitor the program’s effectiveness.
Manny Arvon, Berkeley County Schools superintendent, said Shepherd will provide the missing link that will help make the program successful.
“The higher education part, the research piece, will let us know the effectiveness of the program,” Arvon said. “Being a Shepherd grad, involving Shepherd with the Berkeley County school district is something I’m excited about. We do great things with student teaching and this is another arm to our great relationship.”
Maury Richards, Martinsburg police chief, said his department is thrilled to partner with Shepherd.
“Having a local university committed and involved as a parter is a key to future success—not only in terms of building an evidence-based program but in strengthening the connections we have with the community,” Richards said. “We’re very excited and looking forward to it.”
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