Justice visits Wood County to support GameChanger initiative

PARKERSBURG, W.Va. – Gov. Jim Justice, on Monday, visited Parkersburg High School to speak with students about the GameChanger Prevention Education Program currently being implemented in Wood County.

Gov. Justice, who serves as the GameChanger Head Coach, addressed approximately 2,000 students from PHS and Van Devender Middle School. Students also viewed the award-winning GameChanger-produced film One Pill Can Kill.

Additionally, Parkersburg Mayor Tom Joyce presented the Governor with a check for $90,000 to assist in funding GameChanger programs in Parkersburg City Schools, making Parkersburg the first West Virginia city to allocate opioid settlement money for prevention education.

“I want to thank Mayor Joyce and the Parkersburg City Council for such a generous outpouring of support,” Gov. Justice said. “This is just fantastic and the kind of support GameChanger needs to provide an excellent prevention education program to students throughout West Virginia. We have come a long way, and still have a long way to go, but with people like Mayor Joyce, Parkersburg officials and most importantly the wonderful educators here today and throughout the state, we will certainly get there.”

Along with Parkersburg High School and Van Devender Middle School, Jefferson Elementary rounds out the trio of Wood County Schools who joined the GameChanger program in 2023.

“We must step forward to meet this deadly scourge head on and do whatever it takes to put an end to it,” Joyce, who became a supporter of GameChanger the first time he was briefed on the program, said. “Our children’s lives are at stake as well as the future of our families and communities,” Joyce said. “I am so pleased to have a council who is so understanding and supportive. You can be assured that GameChanger has the full support of the City of Parkersburg.”

“I am really impressed with the GameChanger initiative, especially its contract for program development with such a highly respected organization as the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation,” Wood County Superintendent of Schools Christie Willis said. “Prevention education is a necessity as we move forward, and I am very pleased with GameChanger’s age-appropriate programming and how it is implemented.”

“I can’t even begin to express the gratitude I have for so many people, organizations, and businesses, beginning with Governor Justice and continuing today with Mayor Joyce and the City of Parkersburg Officials, Superintendent Willis and the principals and teachers,” GameChanger founder and Executive Director Joe Boczek said. “Governor Justice stepped up the very first day and hasn’t stopped. Without the fantastic outpouring of support throughout this state, GameChanger would have remained just a dream of mine instead of the reality it has become.”

GameChanger is currently in 55 schools in 18 West Virginia counties. Its 34-minute documentary, One Pill Can Kill, addresses the deadly Fentanyl issue.

It was recently named the recipient of national and international awards at film festivals in the United States and France. The film, which will be re-released to all middle and high school students throughout West Virginia in the spring, is available at no cost at www.gamechangerusa.org.

As a youth-led positive development and community enhancement initiative, GameChanger programming, designed in conjunction with the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, educates, supports, and empowers young West Virginians to live healthy, drug-free lifestyles while becoming our leaders of tomorrow.

To learn more about the program, visit www.gamechangerusa.org.


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