BROOKINGS, S.D. (KELO) – Living in a rural community can sometimes mean limited access to the proper resources and treatment you may need.

That’s why Strengthening the Heartland is making it a priority to provide opioid education resources in rural communities.

“Strengthening the Heartland is a collaborative between SDSU and NDSU, we started out as a group that provided opioid misuse prevention resources to rural communities in both states,” SDSU associate professor and 4H youth development specialist, Amber Letcher said.

“One of our goals was to try and create accessible programming that can go to a ton of rural communities and was minimal requirement from the communities, we basically said if you can find us a room and a screen, we can do the rest and so we’ve been able to partner with facilitators throughout South Dakota to reach a significant number of counties,” SDSU assistant professor in the department of counseling and human development, Kristine Ramsay-Seaner said.

Now their work is expanding.

“Our new programming really focuses on not only giving resources to people who might be experiencing some addiction, but also helping their family or their friends understand a little bit more about addiction and treatment resources,” Letcher said.

That’s not all. They also are expanding their educational program for youth.

“Our original program was a one hour presentation, gave a lot of descriptive details, terminology about opioids and prescriptions, but now we are expanding that to be a day long event, so that we can give a little bit more in depth information and we can provide some more hands on activities,” Letcher said.

“We have reached thousands of Dakotans and we are only hoping to grow and reach more people,” Ramsay-Seaner said.

Providing access to resources wherever you are.

They will also be hosting a free, week long virtual conference called ‘The Intersection of Diversity and Addiction,’ the first week of February.

Another resource that brings awareness to the opioid epidemic is Emily’s Hope