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The Byrnes Health Education Center has added a new program to its wellness curriculum in hopes of educating young members of the community about the dangers of heroin and other drugs.

The program, "Heroin: The Wake Up Call," is an hour-long class for seventh- through 12-graders being offered across York County and south-central Pennsylvania. Four school districts in York County have already signed up for the course, and the center is still reaching out to schools across the area. It can be taken in a single classroom or in an assembly set-up.

The program, which is a collaborative effort between the health center and the York County Heroin Task Force, seeks to address the heroin crisis by reaching out to the younger demographic to prevent drug addictions before they can take hold.

The program is intended to cover a variety of topics, including what heroin does a person's body and how abusing prescription drugs can eventually lead to heroin use. The class will also review the way addictions can affect loved ones, as well as provide information about the good Samaritan Law, which gives those who call for help during an overdose, immunity from being prosecuted for certain crimes.

The program will present this information through a multi-media presentation, real life stories and interactive activities.

Even with more than 90 Narcan saves by police in the past year, it appears slightly more people died of heroin-related overdoses in York County last year than they did the year before, according to the York County Coroner's Office.

When the office earlier this month released its annual report, there were 56 confirmed heroin-related deaths for 2015, with eight more pending toxicology results before they can be officially ruled. Should they come back as overdoses  which suspected ones normally do, the total of 64 will be two higher than 2014’s 62.

This week: The Byrnes Health Education Center also will be holding its Drugs 101 program from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday for local community leaders.

The free workshop designed specifically for parents, educators and community leaders focuses on the early warnings signs and describes in detail what to look for what it comes to drug and alcohol abuse.

The workshop takes a unique approach, using a mock bedroom filled with drug paraphernalia and popular hiding places like books with pages cut out, a realistic water bottle with a false bottom for hiding drugs, and whip cream cans. Parents are encouraged to examine the space to see how many indicators they can identify.

For more information on either program contact the center at (717) 848-3064.

— Reach Jessica Schladebeck at jschladebeck@yorkdispatch.com.

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