CHARLESTON — Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has announced the winner of a statewide contest called Kids Kick Opioids.
The winner was fourth-grader Blake Pacitto of Lashmeet/Matoaka Elementary School in Mercer County.
"Blake's entry illustrates the long-term consequences of opioid abuse, including its effect on the user's employment, relationships, home life and freedom," Morrisey said in an interview with The West Virginia Record. "This all-encompassing design should convince everyone to think twice before abusing an opioid painkiller.
Blake Pacitto's drawing
Morrisey said too many West Virginians have died due to the opioid epidemic.
"We must do everything within our power to raise awareness that opioid pills share characteristics similar to heroin and that addiction can quickly take hold and end with death," Morrisey said.
Blake's entry was selected from 2,087 entries from elementary and middle school students across the state. Submissions came from 70 schools across West Virginia and included drawings, poems and other designs promoting awareness of the opioid epidemic ravaging the country.
The runner-up was Nevaeh Premo of Rivesville Elementary/Middle School in Marion County. Both drawings will be published on the West Virginia Attorney General Office's website and will appear in several newspapers across the state.
Pacitto's drawing showed how opioid abuse threatens all aspects of a user's life. It explains the impact of opioid abuse, specifically in affecting a user’s employment, home life and time spent with loved ones.
It also warns that opioid abuse could ultimately lead to prison or death.
Morrisey said Pacitto's simple design speaks volumes because it underscores how getting hooked can ruin every aspect of one’s life.
"I hope everyone in our state will take note of Blake’s message because prevention is key to stopping senseless death," he said.
The judges of the contest recognized 35 winning entries from 41 students overall. Pacitto, Premo and each of the regional winners' entries will be displayed at the State Capitol.
Kids Kick Opioids represents one of many initiatives Morrisey has done to combat West Virginia’s drug overdose death rate.
The West Virginia State Medical Association, West Virginia Association of School Nurses and the Capitol Police assisted Morrisey in judging the contest.