DANVILLE, WV (LOOTPRESS) – Gov. Jim Justice recently visited Ramage Elementary to check in with students on the progress of the GameChanger Prevention Education Program.
Gov. Justice helped deliver a $114,000 check from Boone Memorial Health and ParMar Stores, and acknowledge the importance of Red Ribbon Week in West Virginia.
Ramage Elementary is one of 55 schools across 18 counties participating in the GameChanger Program, a substance misuse prevention movement driven by students.
Gov. Justice, who serves as the program’s head coach, also met with students from Scott High School, Van High School, Sherman Junior High School, and Madison Middle School, all of which joined the Program this year, giving Boone County five GameChanger schools.
“Pay attention to what these folks are telling you, because staying away from drugs is the most important thing you can do,” Gov. Justice said.
“Trust me, it is not a road you want to go down. You all are so young with your whole lives ahead of you. You are all capable of achieving great things, and I truly believe in you.”
GameChanger works directly with schools to implement, monitor, and sustain the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation’s Student Peer Leadership Program, which has been found by research to help children make healthy choices about alcohol, opioids, and all other drugs.
The event also coincides with Red Ribbon Week, an annual awareness campaign throughout the country that encourages communities to promote drug prevention and education, emphasizing the importance of making healthy choices while raising awareness about the dangers of drug abuse.
Gov. Justice was joined on the visit by Boone County Superintendent of Schools Matt Riggs, Ramage Elementary School Principal Loren Berry, Boone County Sheriff Chad Barker, Boone Memorial Health CEO Virgil Underwood, Boone Memorial Health General Counsel and Chief of External Affairs Ray Harrell, Director of Boone Memorial Community Health Foundation Victor Farmer, GameChanger Executive Director Joe Boczek, GameChanger Director of Prevention Kim Legg.
“There is no doubt that we have a catastrophic problem with fentanyl and opioid and substance misuse in this county, in this state, and in this nation,” Underwood, who presented Gov. Justice the check, said.
“Without a doubt, GameChanger is just the remedy needed to help fight this awful issue. When you have the opportunity to bring a program to our youth which the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation helped develop, you run with that opportunity.”
“Governor Justice agreeing to become our head coach at our inception set the tone and to see the vast support, from the business community, the education sector and individuals overall is just another indication of how West Virginians always step up to the plate,” Boczek said.
“As a result of this kind of support and the quality of the GameChanger Program, we have been asked and have met with representatives from other states who want to begin implementation of GameChanger as early as next fall.”
In addition, GameChanger is a strategic partner with the United States Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) One Kill Can Kill Program, producing a film with the same title, which has won several national awards and is being shown to all students in middle through high school in West Virginia.
The film educates West Virginia students about the dangers of playing Russian Roulette by purchasing counterfeit pills potentially laced with deadly fentanyl over the internet.
As a youth-led positive development and community enhancement initiative, GameChanger programming is designed to educate, support, and empower young West Virginians to live healthy, drug-free lifestyles while preparing to be our leaders of tomorrow.
To learn more about the Program, visit GameChangerUSA.org.