Digital Communication Students Bring Hope to Heroin Epidemic 

Students in Lebanon Valley College’s Design for Good course hosted an interactive event on campus in April to engage the community on the heroin epidemic.

In “What Heroin Sounds Like,” students developed an installation to recreate the physical and mental feeling of addiction. Showcased in the Allan W. Mund College Center during the College’s annual Inquiry celebration of student research and creative projects, the project featured six rooms that took visitors through the emotions of addiction. 

“The exhibit is aimed at engaging students and the community, and bringing light to issues that usually tend to stay in the dark,” said Devon Malloy ’19, a digital communications and global studies double major. “[The class] worked really hard in this exhibit to end the stigma associated with substance abuse disorder.”

Malloy helped to construct the “withdrawal” room which demonstrated to visitors what it would feel like to experience withdrawal from their addiction. 

“In this room, I used the portraits of real people affected by the epidemic to create hanging, distorted portraits that embody the feeling of withdrawal,” Malloy said. “I also drafted, designed, and sent countless letters to community members in order to foster support and curiosity in the Lancaster-Lebanon community.”

The students said the goal was to enhance the audience’s awareness of the fact that addiction is a mental and physical illness. The exhibit aimed to elicit empathy and understanding of addiction by simulating what is it like to be addicted. Professor Mathew Samuel, digital communications, and art instructor Adam Delmarcelle guided students in developing the project.

“This project was important because it connected our students to an issue that faces our community,” said Samuel. ”They were able to apply the skills they have learned to make a difference in the lives of others.”  

“I want people to realize that there is hope,” said digital communications major Michael Ogunyemi ’18. “It’s not a hopeless epidemic and we all have a role to play in giving hope.” 

After the simulation, some of the 200 visitors participated in an open discussion with health professionals who deal with substance abuse and with a recovering heroin addict. The students involved with the project put their skills they learned from the classroom to use in an all encompassing project. 

“I've learned not only to cherish the opportunities that I have been given, but also to use my skills to make a difference,” Malloy said. “Often times, substance abuse disorder is seen through an incredibly stereotypical lens, but through this project I've learned to use my skills to create something that will hopefully make a difference in the community, something I can carry through my time at LVC and through life.”

“[From this project] I took away the importance of community-based projects,” Ogunyemi said. “Projects like this are the ones that create a personal connection to issues in our society and challenges me to do and be better. I'm super proud of my classmates for taking this challenge.”


- By Jolie Winemiller ’18, for LVC 430 Feature Writing