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Gov. Justice visits GameChanger Prevention Education Program pilot school to check-in on progress

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MARTINSBURG, WV– Gov. Jim Justice visited Spring Mills Middle School in Martinsburg today to check-in with sixth grade students on the progress of the GameChanger Prevention Education Program.

Spring Mills Middle School is one of 12 pilot schools for the 2022-2023 school year to participate in the GameChanger Prevention Education Program. Gov. Justice serves as head coach of the program.

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“It is truly amazing just how impactful the GameChanger curriculum has been for Spring Mills Middle just a few months into this school year,” Gov. Justice said. “It doesn’t matter who you are or what your background is, drugs impact every single one of us in some way or another – even our kids. As parents, grandparents, and leaders, we have an obligation to give our students a pathway to the best life possible because they hold the keys to our state’s future in their hands. The GameChanger program is doing just that, and I couldn’t be more proud.”

The cutting-edge, evidence-based program is the first of its kind in the nation and is the result of a collaborative agreement between WV GameChanger and the world-renowned Hazelden-Betty Ford Foundation. The program involves implementing opioid and substance misuse prevention education curriculum in schools across the state.

Gov. Justice was joined on the visit by Berkeley County Superintendent of Schools, Ronald Stevens, Spring Mills Middle School Principal Dr. Amy Haderer, GameChanger Coach Seth Eby, GameChanger Director of Prevention Kim Legg, West Virginia Senate President Craig Blair, and members of the prevention team at The Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation.

“We have been so fortunate and blessed because so many people from so many areas headed by Governor Justice stepped up and went to work because they believed in the concept,” explained Boczek, the Executive Director since founding the initiative just three years ago. “So far, we haven’t let them down and owe the success to every single person who has lent their support.”

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“We here at Spring Mills have worked diligently to organize our student interviews, focus groups and behavioral surveys, which will provide the fundamental essential data to build our Comprehensive Plan,” said Eby, the first GameChanger Coach for the program at Spring Mills. “The plan is focused at motivating our students to do their part to eradicate the drug and alcohol epidemic in our community as GameChangers.”

“I am pleased Spring Mills Middle School was chosen to be one of the GameChanger Pilot Schools,” said Senator Blair. “We are all aware and concerned about the drug problem which is resulting in needless deaths and destruction of our families, and I believe GameChanger, with its partnership with the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, provides us with a solid chance to overcome this terrible problem.”

WV GameChanger intends to offer its Opioid and Substance Misuse Prevention Education Program to all West Virginia elementary, middle, and high schools by the fall of 2027.

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. In addition, GameChanger is partnering with the United States Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) One Pill Can Kill Program designed to educate West Virginia youth about the dangers of playing Russian Roulette by purchasing counterfeit pills potentially laced with deadly Fentanyl over the internet. 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 the program, visitGameChangerUSA.org.

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