Students from Campbell County have been working for several months alongside students from New York City to produce a documentary about the opioid epidemic. The project, called “We Are All Connected,” is guided by the Educational Video Center in New York City. They are working to bridge the urban and rural divide through youth empowered media.

A grant provided the four students from Campbell County the opportunity to work on this project. The students chose the topic of the film and spent time collaborating, developing a website and producing the project together.

HOPE (Helping Open People’s Eyes) from Educational Video Center on Vimeo.

The documentary includes a look at the opioid issues in East Tennessee and New York City. The students conducted interviews with law enforcement, former opioid users, recovery centers and various members of the community. 

“I want everyone to open their eyes and see, because a lot of people just call them addicts. They don’t see them as people. I want to see them as people and be treated as people,” said Andrew Buttram, a Jellico High School Student who worked on the documentary.

Buttram and his fellow students, Peyton Berry-Muse, Emily Ivey and James Hatfield, said the experience was an opportunity to look at the opioid problems in a different light, bringing together the issue on a local level and national level. The group also traveled to New York City to meet with the other students about the project. While there they visited treatment centers and trained on how to use Naloxone.

“Once we realized we could make a change, we were like, wow we are helping,” said Peyton Berry-Muse. 

The documentary is also part of a joint website to help gain raise awareness on the issue. The students will be showing the documentary to their fellow students and staff members at Jellico High School on Thursday.