A few months ago, I took an appointment that has turned out to be one of the single most important meetings to me since becoming Speaker. In fact, this meeting has inspired my top legislative priority during the remainder of my term as your state representative — to help our youth escape the grip of Ohio’s opioid epidemic before it’s too late.
I have had the chance to get to know a large group of young women from Waverly City Schools who have career aspirations and the desire to break free from poverty, but who are held back by the impact of drug abuse and addiction on their families.
After listening to the stories of these young ladies, I realized that something more needs to be done.
That’s why, in coordination with Ohio’s public universities, we have drafted legislation that would create OhioCorps, a program aimed at helping at-risk, low-income students achieve success in the classroom and pursue postsecondary opportunities.
This initiative is two-fold; through connecting college students with high schoolers in need, we not only create a support system for those negatively affected by the opioid epidemic, but we instill values of mentorship and community outreach into our college students.
OhioCorps would operate during the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 school years and would provide funding to our universities for its development.
Additionally, college students who take on the responsibility of mentoring a student who is at least 13 years of age and is impacted by family opioid addiction would receive a stipend for their crucial role.
And finally, at-risk students who successfully fulfill all requirements and complete the program will receive a scholarship to help pay for college.
The overarching solution to Ohio’s drug epidemic is to improve the connection between education and the workforce, while encouraging treatment and recovery options for the currently addicted.
If we can create better avenues for our children and teenagers to be able to afford higher education and get a fulfilling job, then they will be less likely to succumb to the pressures of drugs and alcohol. OhioCorps makes great strides toward improving that relationship while also creating a solid support system for students in need.
Ohio House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger (R-Clarksville) represents the 91st District, which includes Clinton County.