Dani Jo Thatcher of Emery County, Utah founds a coalition called Unity in the Community with the purpose of educating youth and community members on opioid addiction and the impact it has on lives. "4-H Inspires Kids to Do" is produced by NBC News Learn in partnership with the 4-H Organization.
4-H Inspires Kids to Do -- Dani Jo Thatcher
DANI JO THATCHER, Unity in the Community: My name is Dani Jo Thatcher, I am from Elmo, Utah. I've lived in Elmo since I was in second grade. It's in Emery County. I love the people in Emery County. They're very kind, very giving. There's multiple instances I can tell you of where they have your back no matter what. If there's somebody in need, they help.
CASSIE THATCHER, Unity in the Community: Emery County has struggled a lot with opioid addiction. We rank, I believe, number six in the nation.
D. THATCHER: I have my Uncle Cade, and when he was in high school, he got a knee injury. And so, he got addicted to opioids. And then later, it led to alcoholism. And so, in 2016, that summer, he overdosed on alcohol and opioids and he passed away. And he left a wife and four kids. And I didn't want any other families to go through that, 'cause it was really hard for them.
The coalition we created within our county is Unity in the Community. Our big purpose is to make a difference in people's lives who are addicted to opioids.
C. THATCHER: I work for Utah State University extension. We want to bring Emery County together and work together to help combat this problem. We started our coalition in February of 2018. And that consisted of health department members, the sheriff, recovering addicts.
KOLTON WORLD: I was addicted to heroin for about 12 years. I was in and out of jail-- treatment centers. I feel it's important to share our stories with the youth or anybody, for me, it keeps me sober. Sharing it, I walk it, I relive it, and it keeps me still there to remember where I came from to what I am now. It's also important to be able to hopefully, save that one life, if we can.
D. THATCHER: adults and youth both benefit each other because we both have separate opinions. youth are like, hey, we need to do this; but adults see the other side and they're like, no, we need to do this. But if we combine it, we can help all people of all ages and it's a great system.
C. THATCHER: The youth adult partnership is really youth-led. We’re the ones setting up the tables and chairs, We're the ones doing the work, where it's the youth out there actually getting out in the community and doing it.
D. THATCHER: We had, for example, 4-H Day Camp, where we had so many youth throughout the county. And like, then we've organized several nights with the local pharmacist or the state DEA and they educate the people about what is going on within the community. we had one of the local pharmacists come and talk to us, and he told us how dangerous it is to have drugs within our cabinets that we are not using.
he told us about a drop box that we have over at the clinic down the road and you can just take your old drugs there and then it gets rid of them and then no one else can have them, which benefits everyone.
GREG FUNK, Sheriff: Dani is kind of that light that comes on. I mean, I was actually quite shocked when she took this upon herself. She called me up and asked me to come and participate, which I loved. It was great to see someone that actually cared and willing' to help out in our little rural area here. And I've been able to explain to them it's a community issue. It's not my issue. It's not your issue. It's everybody's issue.
SAVANNAH: I think education--you can never go wrong with education. And so doing what you all are doing is huge.
D. THATCHER: in this club, you make a difference. You make a difference within the community and you know you're doing something important, which makes it worth it.
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