Good Drugs, Bad Drugs: Helping Kids Knovv the Difference Pharmacists can playa pivotal role in educating children about the appropriate use of medications. by Suzanne Scott and Lynne M. Constantine
Katy's Kids: Basic Safety
na world where illegal drugs easily find their way To help pharmacists give children inforn1ation about the into the hands of six- or seven-year olds, programs value of Iuedicines and why it is important to use theIU that teach children about the dangers of drugs cannot properly, the Iowa Pharmacists Association (IPA) and the begin too early. But pharmacists, teachers, and parents are Iowa Pharmacy Foundation learning that "just say no " cosp onsor an imaginative, and othe r anti-drug meshighly interactive audiovisusages may have a rebound al progralu called "Katy 's effect on kids . Some chilKids ." The program helps dren , e specially younger childre n unde rsta nd th e ones, now are saying "no" to function of "good drugs" at all drugS-including antibia young age to make them otics, analgesics, and other less like ly to b ec ome medications. involved with harmful dnlg "Most chil d re n need to use later in life. take medications from time Design ed espe cially for to titue," says Jerry Karbelyoung children, Katy's Kids ing, a community pharmacist has receive d rave review s at Big Creek Pharmacy in from teachers and students Polk City , Iowa. "But alike . Since the program 's because some children are inception in 1988, more than afraid of what they've heard 20 ,000 e le mentary school about drugs, mom and dad children have met the promay find themselves chasing Katy the Kangaroo is the star of an imaginative med ication gram's star, Katy the Kangatheir kids around with antibi- awareness program for y o ung children. roo, and heard a volunteer otics and a spoon. " pharmacist deliver Katy's message. More than 600 Iowa According to Karbeling, many good progralus teach chilpharmacists and pharmacy students have presented the prodren and teens about the dangers of substance abuse, but gram in their communities, and pharmacists from around few have incorporated a positive message about approprithe country have contacted IPA to bring the program to the ate use of medications. "In young children especially, medications need to be differentiated from abuse drugs," he school children in their areas. In an appealing and positive way, the program teaches says . "Kids need to learn early that medications, u sed basic safety messages- "medicine is not candy, " for examappropriately, are very important. " AMERICAN PHARMACY
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pIe-and helps children Twice a year she orders the understand the pharmacist's costume and materials and role as the "person who makes the rounds of all the knows all about medicines. " schools in her county-and Children learn about prea few outside her county. scriptions and how dangerOften she makes the presenous it can be to take tations on her own time, but medicines that are preoccasionally uses part of a scribed for someone else. work day, she says. One of the highlights for the Since the video program children is the appearance of is a new tool, Linder's expeth~ ':real" Katy (a costumed rience has been chiefly with as's istant who accompanies the slides. She uses the the pharmacist) at the end of script to organize her talk the program. and guide her through the Iowa pharmacists may main points , digressing to borrow the one-size-fits-all address whatever the kids Katy costume and a kit conare most interested in. taining either a slide presen"I don't go by the script; I tation or interactive video go by the kids ," she says. from IP A at no charge. At Pharmacist Mike Pursel and "Katy" present educational "But I always bring Katy present, out-of-state pharma- materials to children at an Iowa elementary school along in costume, and she's cists may also borrow the always the highlight of the kit , but not the costume. program." Tha t may soo n change, Kalbeling , who also however. helped develop Katy's Kids, has used the program for a A $10,000 grant that IPA recently received will make it number of classes in his school district. "The kids' response possible for other states to have easier access to the Katy's is great, " he says. "And teachers often spin our message off Kids program, according to Jenelle Sobotka, IPA's vice presinto a general health lesson. " ident of education affairs. While it is no surprise that kids enjoy Katy the Kangaroo, The grant, awarded by the Upjohn Company and the Karbeling notes that they also respond positively to the National Council of State Pharmaceutical Association Execupharmacist-presenter. "When kids come into the pharmacy tives, is designed to help state associations make worthwith their parents, they point to me and say that I came to while programs more widely available. their school to see them," he says. Sobotka anticipates that IPA will supply the Katy's Kids The program encourages kids to share Katy's message materials-including kangaroo costumes-to interested state with others. "I tell them I want them to be teachers, " said associations at a reduced price so they can set up their own Karbeling. "I ask them to teach their little brothers and sisborrowing systems for pharmacists. ters, their older brothers and sisters, even their moms and dads." Each kit contains a prepared speech that the pharmacist can deliver verbatim or use as notes. IPA also sells Katy colApparently the children do bring the message home. linoring booklets, bookmarks, stickers, and award certificates der, who has been presenting Katy's Kids for four years, now is seeing the younger brothers and sisters of children for pharmacists to give away to their young listeners. Many pharmacists reinforce the program by using a special Katy's who experienced the program several years ago. "These kids know what's coming, and they are very excited," she Kids auxiliary label, "Take Until All Gone," on children's prescriptions. says.
Changing Kids' Attitudes
Pharmacist Visibility Kap Linder, a pharmacist in the clinic pharmacies owned by Steward Memorial Hospital in Lake City, Iowa, was involved in developing the Katy's Kids program for IPA. Vol. NS32, No.7 July 1992/ 563
Along with Katy's more positive message comes the real problem of teaching children about drug abuse. Some programs combine both types of education. James Dedera, a pharmacist at Zike Pharmacy in East Dalton, Illinois, began working with high school students on drug abuse prevention in the late 1960s, when he was a AMERICAN PHARMACY
student at St. Louis College of Pharmacy. "That was before prevention was in vogue, " he says. "And I've been doing it ever since." Dedera gives presentations to kindergartners, college students, and all grade levels in between, "but the majority of kids I deal with are sixth grade and up, " he says. Like most pharmacists who provide drug education to children and teenagers, Dedera's main thrust is substance abuse, but he also incorporates information about "good drugs" and the proper use of medications whenever possible. Dedera says he discusses everything from over-thecounter medications, prescription drugs, and the pharmacist's role in the health care spectrum, to the physiology and pharmacology of substance abuse. His interest in sports has led him to spend a Jot of time working with young athletes. These kids, he notes, are very interested in learning how drugs affect their bodies. "When I teach about abuse drugs such as marijuana and
'Because some children are afraid of what they've heard about drugs, mom and dad may find themselves chasing their kids around with antibiotics and a spoon.'
Along with his commitlnent to drug education, Dedera has a strong commitment to patient counseling and education. "The beauty of being a pharmacist is that, with a little bit of work and attention to detail, you can do a lot of good
Drug Education Resources Following is a partial listing of resources pharmacists may use in their medication awareness efforts. Katy's Kids: Program for young children. Katy the Kangaroo costume, interactive videotape with prepared script, or slides and accompanying script available for loan or pqrchase. Collateral materials such as Katy stickers, bookmarks, colOring booklets, and award can also be ordered at nominal costs. Because prices and borrowing gUidelines hinge on whether the pharmacist resides in Iowa, it's best to call for specific information. Contact: Iowa Pharmacists Association, 8515 Douglas, Suite 16, Des Moines, IA 50322. (515) 270-0713.
NCPC/OSAP Booklets: The National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) and the Office of Substance Abuse Prevention, U.S. Depaltment of Health and Human Services, collaborated to produce drug education materials featuring NCPC's popular McGruff, the Crime Dog.
• MCGruffs Surprise Party, a comic book designed for third and fourth graders, provides positive reinforcement for saying "no" in situations where they are confronted with alcohol and other harmful drugs. • Crack Down on Drugs, a coloring book for pre-
school and primary grade children, gives advice about saying no to alcohol and other harmful drugs.
PCP, I teach them about how the brain functions and how the drug actually reacts in their bodies, " he says. "I don't play on emotion, and I never say, 'Don't use the drug. '" The low-key, consultative approach keeps the kids listening, Dedera believes, because it respects their ability to make intelligent choices. His goal is to get them thinkingand talking with him. By the time he finishes his presentation' he says, the kids are asking questions about all kinds of drugs. "When they bring up Tylenol with codeine, that's my opportunity to begin talking about appropriate use of prescription medications, " he says. Dedera's commitment is serious. He estimates that he has met with 30,000 to 35,000 students over the years, and he takes two days off every week to devote to drug education programs. In the late 1980s, he was named Pharmacist of the Year by the Pharmacists Against Drug Abuse Foundation, a group that has since merged with P.R.I.D.E. AMERICAN PHARMACY
Gontact: (For single copies) National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information (NCADI), P.O. Box 2345, Rockville, MD 20857 (301) 468-2600. (For multiple copies) Your state or local Regional Alcohol and Drug Awareness Resource (RADAR) Center; for a list of RADAR centers, contact NCADI. Virginia Phannaceutical Association (VPhA) has two drug education programs available for loan to pharmacists and pharmacy students for presentations to schools and other groups.
• "The Fact Is," a five-minute videotape cartoon for young, reading-age children, gives, advice about how to resist drugs and alcohol. • "Teenagers: Drug Abuse," a 15-1ninute slide presentation with a teenage narrator, addresses the realistic frustrations and problems of teens and teaches them how to beat drug abuse and deal with peer pressure. Contact: Virginia Pharmaceutical Association, 3119 W. Clay Street, Richmond, VA 23230 (804) 355-7941.
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