Falls Church Spring Health Guide 2023

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FDA Policy Change Welcomed As Student Overdoses Rise

On Wednesday, the FDA approved the over-the-counter distribution of Naloxone — often referred to by the brand-name Narcan — in nasal spray form. This is a welcome development coming during a time where school officials and leaders have been scrambling to intervene amidst a recent spike in opioid overdose in minors — and when Fentanyl, a synthetic opiate 50-100 times stronger than morphine, is being increasingly found laced into other drugs, which are increasingly finding their way into the hands of minors.

Within the Fairfax Health District (FHD), which includes Falls Church, Fairfax City, and Fairfax County, non-fatal overdose incidents in minors have increased dramatically in recent years, from 12 in 2021 to 27 in 2022 — and there have been 9 more in just the first two months of 2023. Data on overdoses specific to minors in Arlington County and Alexandria were not immediately available. However at least two separate youth overdose incidents are known to have occurred in

Arlington, including one fatality, and both acknowledge experiencing the same increase.

Falls Church City Public Schools

(FCCPS) officials say they welcome this morning’s FDA decision to expand access to Naloxone. “We are excited about this change — it opens access and removes barriers to this life-saving medication.” said Rebecca Sharp, Executive Director of Special Education at FCCPS, “As a school division we will be consulting with our partners at the Health Department and our school administrators, and reviewing our policies and regulations.”

In neighboring Fairfax County, every school has trained staff to administer Naloxone, which is in every FCPS building as of November 2022. “We take substance abuse disorder very seriously at Fairfax County Public Schools,” said Providence District School Board representative Karl Frisch, who said priorities have included fentanyl testing strip availability, access to Narcan, improved curricula, hiring more prevention specialists, and exploring establishing a “recovery high school.”

First used to treat opioid overdose

as an injectable in 1971, Narcan can quickly reverse an overdose and restore breathing, a common cause of overdose fatality. It does so by binding to the same receptors opioids need to bind to in order to cause their effect. First responders and healthcare providers have regularly carried Naloxone for decades. Narcan itself is safe enough to be administered to newborn infants — it only gets in the way of the opioids. Despite this, due to its classification as a prescription drug, students have not been permitted to possess Narcan, and distribution to students has not been allowed.

“All of our secondary staff have been trained to use Naloxone and administrators and school security coordinators all have Naloxone on them,” said Frank Bellavia, Director of Communications for Arlington County Public Schools, who said school clinics are stocked with Narcan and boxes are currently being installed with Narcan around schools. Though Bellavia says the FDA change this morning was a welcome one, “Virginia Code says that only staff can carry Narcan,” so a change will need to come from Richmond before students are allowed to possess Narcan.

Ensuring training and supply for Naloxone has been the most recent FCCPS effort in the fight against opioid overdose. Last week, the Meridian High School PTA hosted a REVIVE training that drew over 115 parents and students. FCCPS uses the REVIVE model, Virginia’s Opioid Overdose and Naloxone Education (OONE) program, which trains people on how to recognize and respond to an overdose using Naloxone.

Sharp says all FCCPS Secondary Administrators, Coaches, and Health Aides have been provided REVIVE training, with the remainder of secondary staff being trained in the coming weeks. FCCPS also plans to continue providing REVIVE programming for parents and students (with permission). Dates for

future training will be made available through the FCCPS Morning Announcements daily e-newsletter as well as on the FCCPS website.

Though Sharp outlined a comprehensive list of efforts ranging from mental health mitigation to educating student leaders (including on Narcan administration, once legal to do so), she says the most important mitigator remains unchanged over the years. “The most important strategy there is in our toolbox as parents and educators is talking,” she emphasizes, encouraging parents to talk to their children, know who they interact with, and monitor their social media and phone conversations. “This is a community issue that is going to take all of us together to protect our students.”


Bike Falls Church Promotes Health and Community

For residents of all ages looking for a way to stay active and get to know others in their community, a local organization is combining these two factors to promote bike infrastructure in the Little City.

Bike Falls Church, founded by Andrew Olesen, began in December of 2021 and allows its members to bike around Falls Church while also focusing on local issues, such as safer streets and sustainability. Olesen said he began the organization after moving to the Little City a few years ago and getting involved with the Citizens Advisory Committee on Transportation (CACT).

In December of 2019, Olesen and a few other members from the CACT and the Environmental Sustainability Council went on a bike ride, which Olesen said ended with the conclusion that there was a lot of potential in Falls Church for people to get around on bicycles.

After noticing the city was a “small place” with 25 mph speed limits and “not a lot” of bike infrastructure, Olesen said he started the organiza-

tion as a way to bring people together to engage in biking, while also voicing their thoughts on “active transportation” in the city.

Bike Falls Church is open to everyone agewise, with Olesen saying the focus of the organization is to promote the city as a place “for people of all ages and abilities to be able to ride bicycles.”

“We really want the voices that we’re hearing from our membership to represent the city in terms of ages, genders, socio-economic and racial groups,” Olesen said.

Becoming a member is “very informal,” as people can sign up for a mailing list to receive transportation updates in the city, attend meetings and participate in rides around Falls Church. “Pop-up” traffic gardens across the city are set up for younger members to ride their bike around a simulated street with roundabouts and stop signs.

One member of Bike Falls Church, Tim Stevens, has lived in the city for over 30 years and has been biking even “longer than that.” Stevens said he has always looked for some kind of biking advocacy organization that would focus on the local jurisdiction.

Although he was “pretty active” in biking before joining the organization, Stevens said Bike Falls Church has been beneficial for him as it allows him to join others and advocate the improvement of bike infrastructure and safety. He said he recommends others to join the organization because it is a positive and productive way to produce changes that improve biking around the city.

“I’m just really happy to see a group that gives us an opportunity for advocacy and joining with others to do that,” Stevens said.

As for how a membership with Bike Falls Church can benefit someone, Olesen said there is evidence that “low-level” activities, such as biking, can improve one’s physical and mental health. The organization also comes with an environmental benefit, as it promotes bike transportation instead of gasoline-powered vehicles.

“It’s really inspiring to meet a community of neighbors who care about this place,” Olsesn said. “One of the reasons that I started [Bike Falls Church] was to look for some way to be more connected and more involved.”

Future goals for the organization include a growth in membership, which Olesen said he hopes will reach about 300 members in a year or so. Additional bike infrastructure, such as bike lanes, are also hoped by the organization to be built by the city in a few years. Lastly, Olesen said he hopes the

organization will host more events that can educate the community on the benefits of bicycling.

“Bicycling is often seen as recreation for children,” Olesen said, “so we hope through events and education that people will see that bicycling is just another mode of transportation.”

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BIKE FALLS CHURCH allows its members to partake in physical activity, as well as advocate for local issues (Photo: Andrew Olesen)

Drs. Love


Miller, PC


Drs. Love and Miller provide a family practice with special emphasis on healthy and beautiful smiles for adults and children. We have created a warm, caring environment that allows our patients to feel comfortable and safe. We take time to listen to our patients so that we can truly understand their individual needs and goals for their dental health.

Both doctors graduated from the Medical College of Virginia and have been practicing together in Falls Church for over 25 years. We are proud to have served the community in ways beyond dental care.

New patients are warmly welcomed in our practice. Dr. Love and Dr. Miller along with our amazing staff are grateful for the trust and support shown by the Falls Church community.

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