Heroin and opioid addiction is plaguing Maryland. Wednesday, Governor Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency and set aside $50 million in support for the growing problem while one Harford County high school is pushing awareness in one of the state's hardest hit counties.
Havre de Grace High School is in the middle of a county fighting against the effects of heroin and opioid abuse. Wednesday, 287 students and staff literally spent the day standing in solidarity with overdose victims.
"If you ask some of the kids, they actually have really personal back stories about why they're doing it and why it means so much to them," sophomore Grace Diveley said.
"It's really hard especially when they die and you have family members who are affected by it," she said.
But she's using that to help others. She, along with 286 other students and staff stood up all day Wednesday wearing special t-shirts that read "heroin overdose victim." That number represents the number of people who overdosed from heroin in 2016.
"By having all the students stand up the whole day shows you how many people are actually affected even the people who you wouldn't think would be affected," Diveley said.
"In two hours tops, we had 195 volunteers to participate today and i went around and talked to classes and that's how we achieved our goal," said Paige Milanoski, a teacher and SADD Coordinator at the high school.
Gracie is part of the SADD chapter and wants students to know they don't have to fall victim to drugs
"If you're in an uncomfortable situation and you know better not to do it then make an excuse and just get out as fast as you can," said Diveley.
And the problem is bigger than one might thing among young people
"There's a lot of kids who do have access to it and are open about it. It's something that i don't think a lot of people realize happens in such a small community," Diveley said.
"The students who have stopped me and told me who this issue touches their personal lives. I'm humbled by it, I'm saddened by it but encouraged by it as well. We look at Harford County and the total numbers we have how can every community not be touched by this? asked Milanoski.
Milanoski says more outreach initiatives are planned. Governor Hogan said Wednesday there are now 27 million heroin users nationwide and it's going to be an all hands on deck approach to reverse the deadly trend.