Eastern Kentucky students tackle addiction through emotional letters

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BEVERLY, Ky. (WYMT) - As part of a "broken world" unit, Red Bird Christian High schoolers learn to tackle social issues much like addiction in Appalachia.

Ladetra Morgan says she chooses to teach her students lessons through her own personal experiences.

"I want them to feel like they have more power than I did growing up," Morgan said.

Her literature classes are filled with kids who now tell their stories through personal letters to change lives.

"We are absolutely going to learn grammar [and] how to write, but we are going to learn how to do it in a way that affects the real world and gives you a sense of agency in what you're doing," Morgan said.

A debate of whether addiction is considered a choice or a disease led to a student-run campaign called 2019 Red Bird R.O.A.D. (Resist Opioid Access and Dependency.)

"People younger than me really, are getting their lives torn apart, their families torn apart," Sophomore Hunter Gray said.

Each student's letter was sent to political, medical, and legal leaders. Freshman Rylee Hoskins says what emotion lies within her classmate's letters is often difficult to read.

"Families being torn apart, to parents leaving and people throwing them away like they're nothing because the drugs have become such a problem in their life. And they become a priority over their kids," Hoskins said.

Sophomore Andy Monga says, fortunately, not all kids feel this pain.

"I don't really know how they feel inside but I just feel the need to help," he said.

Yet these classmates continue to reach out to those just down the hall who do.

"They're not the only ones hurting," Sophomore Taylor Caldwell said. It's the families also. And we are here for support and to let them know they are not alone."

As part of the campaign, the kids plan to host a candlelight vigil for anyone affected by substance abuse at the Red Bird Christian School track. Registration begins at 6:30 p.m.

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