CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey announced the launch of this year's Kids Kick Opioids contest.
The contest is a public service announcement contest where elementary and middle school students create pictures to raise awareness of the dangers of prescription painkiller abuse.
Morrisey said in the past, the contest has been great.
"This has been a tremendous contest,” Morrisey said. “Each year, I’ve been impressed by the creativity and talent of our students."
Morrisey said the students' entries have been a great tool in raising awareness.
" Their entries, some especially poignant, have been a driving force in raising awareness as to the dangers and personal impact of opioid abuse," Morrisey said. "We must do all we can to stop the senseless death and this has been a powerful tool for prevention."
Kids Kick Opioids has drawn more than 9,500 entries since the 2016-17 school year when it first began.
Entry forms were mailed out with details to schools across the state this month.
The contest provides an opportunity for students to learn the dangers of prescription painkiller abuse. while giving them an outlet to express the impact opioid abuse has had on their own lives or the lives of their loved ones.
Students can work individually or in groups. Potential submissions may include drawings, poems, letters or anything that would promote awareness.
Last year, there were 3,240 entries from 3,422 students in the contest. There have been students from 52 of the state's 55 counties who have participated since the contest began.
In 2018, nearly 1,000 West Virginians lost their lives due to drug overdose. Many of those deaths were opioid-related.
Morrisey has made reversing this trend a top priority, as he has fought the epidemic on multiple fronts, including a lawsuit against the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration that achieved sweeping reforms to the nation’s drug quota system.
The winning entry will appear as a statewide newspaper PSA. Regional winners will be displayed in the State Capitol.
The Attorney General also has combated the opioid crisis with civil litigation, multistate initiatives, funding to target opioid abuse, criminal prosecutions, new technology, engagement with the faith-based community and education.
Contest entries must be in by March 13.