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Lifetown Columbus: Teaching life lessons to special needs children

As the opioid crisis continues to claim lives daily, there's one group that's often overlooked. And this group may be the most vulnerable. (WSYX/WTTE)

As the opioid crisis continues to claim lives daily, there's one group that's often overlooked. And this group may be the most vulnerable.

Lifetown Columbus in New Albany is addressing that gap. Lifetown teaches life lessons to children with special needs.

And one new important lesson just added to the curriculum was developed because of the opioid epidemic. "We know that kids with disabilities are two to four times more susceptible to abuse substances, " said Shaunacy Webster the Chief Operating Officer at LifeTown Columbus.

So Lifetown created "Stop To Live." The program includes a doctor taking the kids through 6 different lessons and helps the students build self-esteem.

"We wanted to created something incorporated role playing, repetition and hands on cognitive learning, " said Webster.

The Lessons include not sharing medications and resisting peer pressure.

It also helps the students learn how to safely take their own medications, because sometimes pills look like food.

During the lesson - the students are given choices and are asked to pick out medications versus food.

These may seem like simple lessons, but Patty McGrath wishes her son would have had the chance to learn them.

"Stephen was on medications from a very early age, " McGrath Said. "I didn't realize that a point came in school that the kids were selling medications to each other."

She believes that's when her son then started to self medicate - turning to illegal drugs.

It was a path that Stephen couldn't walk away from -- In January of 2014 - police found 19-year-old Stephen dead.

"They told me that Stephen had been found dead that morning of a heroin overdose. They said the EMS worked on him for about 45 minutes trying to revive him with Narcan, but they couldn't, " she said.

McGrath believes had her son learned about the dangers of addiction, he would likely be alive today.

"My son was on the spectrum, very high functioning, but definitely could have benefited from learning things here at LifeTown, " she said.

Lifetown is about teaching the kids how to make good choices said Webster.

And that's a lesson we all can learn.

If you would like more information on LIfeTown Columbus: https://www.lifetowncolumbus.org/

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