WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Some area middle school students are more informed about the dangers of fentanyl after a Teen Drug Summit Wednesday in Wichita.

Wichita Public Schools, the Wichita Police Department (WPD), Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office, and the Wichita Metro Crime Commission hosted the summit at Central Community Church. They invited more than 200 students from Wichita and surrounding districts.

“After two years of COVID restrictions, we’re coming back with our teen summit,” Jeff Geoffroy, Wichita Metro Crime Commission president, said. “This year, we’re focusing on our middle schools and the fight against fentanyl.”

Students listen during a Teen Drug Summit in west Wichita on Nov. 9, 2022. (KSN Photo)

The summit offered students knowledge about the risk of illegal drug use, how to combat it, and how to find help. It also featured former addicts and parents who have lost children to fentanyl.

Geoffroy said there is a reason they chose to focus the message on middle school students.

“It’s very important to have it starting with the middle school kids because this is where the first information comes about, where they first hear about fentanyl, where they are most impressionable,” Geoffroy said.

Students who attended seemed to agree that the summit is appropriate for middle schoolers.

“I think it’s important because kids, they probably think it’s cool to do drugs and things like that, but they need to know that it’s not, and it can cause death,” Arianna Lamb, Coleman Middle School sixth grader, said.

Terri Moses, the director of safety and environmental services for Wichita Public Schools, says it is about teaching students to make good choices.

“We started this program about five years ago,” Moses said. “Now, with fentanyl, we have this new concern with illegal drug use, but it is so important that students understand that, unlike five years ago, there is an extensive danger out there, and that is fentanyl. Even an experimental use of a drug can lead to death.”

Students listen during a Teen Drug Summit in west Wichita on Nov. 9, 2022. (KSN Photo)

Moses said the previous message was about addiction and the long-term effects of drug use. Now, drug overdoses are an immediate concern.

“I hope that they’re scared when they come out of here,” Geoffroy said. “That they’re scared that this could happen to them, unintended consequences, a pill that may look like a regular pill for, for medication is laced with fentanyl, and if they don’t know what it is, they could take it mistakenly, and they could die.”

He said they also wanted to make sure students know that the pill may not be from a drug dealer. Instead, it could be from a friend.

“It’s crazy, ’cause taking like one pill like that, something as little as that, it could kill you,” Lamb said. “And you think that you trust your friends so much, but you can’t really trust anyone as much as you think.”

“The main thing I learned is how dangerous fentanyl is and how it’s just so widespread even in our small little town,” Mila Imm, Mulvane Middle School eighth grader, said.

In addition to listening to speakers at the summit, students were encouraged to interact with people from various organizations, like Substance Abuse of South-Central Kansas, the sheriff’s office, WPD, EMS and Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

Students listen during a Teen Drug Summit in west Wichita on Nov. 9, 2022. (KSN Photo)

“One thing that we are doing is playing a little game,” Moses said. “We gave them a list of questions, and as they go table to table, they ask those questions to our vendors, and they will get a prize at the end of the day.”

Imm said she chose to come to the summit because she wanted to learn more about preventing drug abuse, but she wasn’t sure what to expect.

“I was pretty scared,” Imm said. “I thought people, there’d be a lot of crying. I was nervous that it would just be a lot of sad stories, but I actually learned a lot of cool jobs and important things.”

Imm is interested in becoming a criminal defense attorney.

Lamb said she also looked forward to the summit.

“I came more ’cause I wanted to learn about fentanyl and drug, and so I can become more aware about what’s around me,” Lamb said.

She came away with a message for others.

“Just to be careful of who you trust and to watch out for things,” Lamb said. “Like you may mistake something little for something way bigger than it is.”