MRPC to host opioid use disorder awareness walk


The Meramec Regional Planning Commission (MRPC) Rural Opioid Initiatives, the Meramec Region’s Rural Opioid Program (MRROP) and Opioid Affected Youth Initiative (OAYI), in partnership with Mid-MO Addiction Awareness Group (MAAG) will host an opioid use disorder (OUD) awareness walk in Linn beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday.

The walk aims at providing awareness for opioid use disorder. MRPC’s rural opioid initiatives work to educate, increase awareness and identify prevention strategies for opioid use disorder throughout the Meramec Region for youth, children, families and adults.

Resource information will be available at the walk. Area residents are encouraged to join the walk or stop by the information booth to learn about resources for persons and families suffering from opioid use disorder.

Participants will meet at Legends Bank Park, across from the Osage County courthouse, on Main Street, where sign-ups will be available. The walkers will then travel along Main Street to the Linn Printing, where they will have a rest stop and then turn around and proceed back to the starting point. Masks and social distancing will be encouraged.

“We are excited to work with MAAG to bring OUD awareness walks to our region,” said Bonnie Prigge, executive director of MRPC. “From 2015-2019, 6 people in Osage County died of drug overdoses. When we look at Osage and its neighboring counties of Mares and Gasconade, there were 40 overdose deaths for that timeframe with 21 of those deaths being opioid overdoses.”

Statistics for 2020 are not yet finalized, Prigge added.

“Those who lose their lives to opioids are only a small portion of those who suffer from Substance Use Disorder, and it has a tremendous impact on families and communities,” Prigge said. “The purpose of the walk is making others aware of SUD in our communities as MRPC and its partners look for solutions that will aid with prevention, treatment and recovery.”

MAAG’s mission is to raise community awareness, share accurate information and break the stigma that surrounds substance use disorder.

“SUD awareness walks bring light to the issue of substance use disorder to the communities where they take place,” said Christa Harmon, MRPC community development specialist assistant. “We walk together, not ashamed of our loved ones who suffer from SUD. We walk together to be a voice for those who have lost their lives due to overdose. We walk together to show recovery can happen.”

Persons needing more information on the walk can contact Christa Harmon at 573-265-2993 or by email at Pre-registration is not required.

MRPC is in the third year of a federal grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration to collectively reduce the morbidity and mortality rate related to opioid overdoses in our rural communities. This grant is specific to Crawford, Dent, Maries and Phelps counties.