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GameChanger hires director of prevention programs

A nationally certified school psychologist is joining the GameChanger team.

Kim Legg will serve as director of prevention for the program, designed to blot the stain of substance abuse in West Virginia, starting with the state’s school systems.

Legg is also a psychologist in Cabell County’s school district, and previously worked in Wayne County’s classrooms, as well, in that same role.

“Opioid and substance misuse is killing our youth and destroying our West Virginia communities,” said Legg, who grew up in Greenbrier County and holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in psychology and education from Marshall University.

She’ll partner with the prevention education staff at the Hazelden-Betty Ford Foundation as director.

And, she’ll oversee GameChanger programs already in the works here for 12 pilot schools across the state, including Clay-Battelle Middle/High School in western Monongalia County.

Legg has also been tasked with expanding the program to nearly 700 public and private schools in West Virginia over the next five years.

Gov. Jim Justice said he appreciates that the hire is home-grown.

“As a West Virginian herself she is another shining example of how we always step up in this state to help others,” the governor said.

Justice drew that theme inward at a GameChanger event last spring at Clay-Battelle, saying then that residents have to help themselves first, before carrying the goodwill and altruism to their neighbors.

“Y’all are gonna have to stand up and make the play,” he told students at the school in Blacksville. “You’re the future.”

The future was what Morgantown businessman and prevention advocate Joe Boczek was thinking about when he founded GameChanger in 2017.

West Virginia, Boczek said then, traditionally ranks near the bottom in quality of life measures — while constantly leading the nation in statistics everyone can do without.

Such as the one from 2008 showing that West Virginia had the highest rate of per capita pill volume in the nation, he said.

That week before Justice’s stop in Mon, a leading behavioral science administrator had testified at the state’s bench trial against Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals and three other drug makers, bearing out Boczek’s frustrations.

Dr. Katherine Keyes, director of Columbia University’s Psychiatric Training Program, said then that both West Virginia and Appalachia were and are overdoses waiting to happen.

That’s because the above defendant companies, she testified, have flooded the region with pills, adding to the malaise of addiction — while making the Mountain State “the epicenter of the opioid crisis in the U.S.”

GameChanger-sanctioned classes on prevention begin this term in the previously selected pilot schools.

Meanwhile, the first day of school in Monongalia County is Tuesday — and Clay-Battelle’s principal David Cottrell said he’s more than ready for the launch of the above instruction in his building.

“We’re uniquely positioned, because we house grades 6 though 12,” the principal said previously.

“That’s a real range of impressionable ages. We can make a difference.”

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