Gov. Jim Justice joined local and state education leaders, along with several other officials, for an event on Wednesday announcing Greenbrier East High School and Greenbrier West High School as the latest additions to the new, student-powered WV GameChanger Opioid and Substance Misuse Prevention Program.
“I am so happy to announce that GameChanger is coming to these two excellent schools,” Gov. Justice said. “I’ve said many times that our children are the greatest treasure we have in West Virginia. They are our future. Through this program, we are going to make sure that all of our students in these schools are on the right pathway toward maximizing their potential.”
GameChanger’s Opioid and Substance Misuse Prevention Program is the first program of its kind and results from a service agreement between WV GameChanger and the world-renowned Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation.
The program will be added to the schools’ curriculums in the fall of 2022.
This is the second set of schools added to the roster of program participants since its inception. In December, Gov. Justice announced the launch of the program, and that Lincoln High School, Lincoln Middle School, and Big Elm Elementary School would be the first schools to participate.
Under the Governor’s leadership as “head coach,” the WV GameChanger initiative is emerging as a national leader in opioid and substance misuse prevention.
GameChanger is a student-powered substance misuse prevention movement, connecting West Virginia students and the educators who care about them with the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation to build school environments that prevent student opioid and other drug use before it starts.
“I am determined to break the cycle of addiction that has plagued our communities for far too long,” Gov. Justice said. “We are already making great strides with the GameChanger initiative. But we won’t stop working until every single school in West Virginia has the tools they need to change the game for all of our students across the state.”
WV GameChanger plans to offer its Opioid and Substance Misuse Prevention Program to all West Virginia elementary, middle, and high schools by the fall of 2027.
Gov. Justice was joined at the mid-morning announcement by West Virginia State Board of Education Member Tom Campbell, Greenbrier County Superintendent of Schools Jeff Bryant, Greenbrier East Principal Ben Rouston, Greenbrier West Principal Amy Robertson, and GameChanger Executive Director Joe Boczek.
“I have been privileged to watch GameChanger since its inception and am incredibly proud that Greenbrier East and Greenbrier West high schools will be a part of such a fantastic education initiative,” Bryant said. “I know first-hand how much Governor Justice genuinely cares for the people and children of West Virginia, and I think programs like GameChanger serve as proof of just how much he cares.”
Desirae Vasquez, Director of Professional Education and Continuum Solutions Programming for the Hazelden-Betty Ford Foundation, joined the announcement virtually from her offices in Massachusetts.
“The GameChanger prevention approach, guided by the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, harnesses real-life skills known to be effective at helping children and teens choose not to use substances and get early help if they need it,” Vasquez said. “These skills are practical, accessible, non-threatening, fun, and easy for students to use for weeks, months, and even years after they learn them. This student-powered approach to prevention can change West Virginia’s trajectory and legacy, creating healthier lives and brighter futures.”
GameChanger Executive Director Boczek took time to laud the Governor, whose leadership, Boczek says, is the reason GameChanger is quietly emerging as one of the nation’s leading programs for opioid and substance misuse prevention.
“Governor Justice’s vision and determination, coupled with the reputation of The Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, gives GameChanger a chance to save and improve lives every day,” Boczek said.
GameChanger works directly with schools to implement, monitor, and sustain the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation’s student peer leadership programs, which have been found by research to help children make healthy choices about alcohol, opioids, and all other drugs. As a youth-led prevention, 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 GameChanger, visit wvgamechanger.org.