(Riley County, KS - January 18, 2023) Asia Sampson recently joined the Riley County Health Department as their new Community Health Educator. She will be responsible for sharing opioid prevention education in the tri-county region, focusing primarily on youth.
“If I can affect even one person positively and give them the tools to make better decisions, all the effort will be worth it,” said Sampson.
This grant-funded position will make it possible for Sampson to collaborate with local schools and community organizations to share information about the dangers of opioid use directly with youth, educators, parents, and community members. She plans to begin by visiting health classes at Manhattan High School this semester.
The safety message will focus on preventive behaviors to address the problem before it starts.
“With the presence of fentanyl in street drugs, it’s important for people to understand that even one pill can kill,” says Sampson. “I use the analogy of chocolate chips in cookies. When you mix the batter, you can’t guarantee each cookie will have the same number of chips. A single counterfeit pill may get a large amount of fentanyl, enough to cause death, and there’s no way to tell just by looking at it. I want kids to know the facts and feel empowered to make choices for their own safety.”
Sharing information with parents and other community members will also be an important part of Sampson’s work. Proper storage and disposal of prescription drugs, talking with children, and taking advantage of school resources such as counselors can have a huge impact on a child’s life.
“Always communicate with your children,” says Sampson. “They know more than they think you know, and they need to hear from you as an authority in their lives.”
Sampson began her career working as a pharmacy tech, and after nine years decided she wanted to focus more on public health and wellness. She joins the Kansas community from Alaska, where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
To request an informational presentation for an organization in Riley, Geary, or Pottawatomie Counties, contact Asia Sampson at the Riley County Health Department (785) 776-4779 ext. 7645.