Operation UNITE is one of five organizations selected to participate in a pilot social media training program to help community-based organizations in Appalachia more effectively use social media to combat the misuse and abuse of prescription painkillers and illegal opiates, such as heroin.

The training is sponsored by the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) and Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU).

More than 60 organizations applied for the program, which is intended to enhance community capacity and ultimately economic growth within the Appalachian Region.

Social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter offer new opportunities for organizations to connect with their communities in order to share and receive information, influence health behaviors and provide a network of support.

Operation UNITE staff participated in a full-day training on July 11 to learn more about how to use different social media channels to reach and engage with the community to raise awareness of the problems as well as the role everyone can play in the solutions. The training included step-by-step guidance in developing a social media strategy for the organization.

The drug overdose rate in Kentucky is more than 1.5 times higher than the national average, and the rates in several counties in UNITE’s service area triple the national average

“Our commonwealth has been ground zero for the explosion of opioid abuse,” said Nancy Hale, president/CEO of Operation UNITE. “But as a result, we also have been on the forefront of fighting this epidemic with a multi-pronged approach that has become a national model. This training will help Operation UNITE continue to leverage every available tool to help our families and communities.”

Following the training, health communication and marketing specialists from ORAU will work with Operation UNITE to provide additional guidance on implementing and improving the strategy, and evaluate the efforts in order to identify social media best practices for community-based organizations tackling the opioid crisis in Appalachia.

Operation UNITE encourages you to check out its social media to see the progress in action:
Like us on Facebook and Follow us on Twitter.

About the Appalachian Regional Commission

The Appalachian Regional Commission (www.arc.gov) is an economic development agency of the federal government and 13 state governments focusing on 420 counties across the Appalachian Region. ARC’s mission is to innovate, partner, and invest to build community capacity and strengthen economic growth in Appalachia to help the Region achieve socioeconomic parity with the nation.