W.Va. AG Announces Mercer County Student as Statewide ‘Kids Kick Opioids’ Winner

CHARLESTON, WV (WOAY) — Attorney General Patrick Morrisey announced a southern West Virginia student as the statewide winner of the Kids Kick Opioids contest, a competition meant to creatively illustrate the devastation caused by prescription painkiller abuse.

Judges selected Taylor Wright of Lashmeet/Matoaka Elementary School in Mercer County as the statewide winner. They chose her artwork from entries submitted by more than 3,500 students across West Virginia. The contest has generated more than 12,800 entries since its inception.

The fourth-grader’s winning design depicts people trapped inside a pill bottle with the message, “Don’t bottle up your family over your addiction” — a reminder that opioid abuse affects more than just the user. It will soon appear in newspapers across West Virginia as the Attorney General’s next public service announcement.

“Taylor’s design shows the harsh reality that opioid addiction rips families apart and causes devastating sadness,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “I congratulate Taylor, our state runners-up and all of the regional winners for their hard work in promoting awareness of opioid abuse. It is our hope that we can prevent future drug abuse by reaching out to this younger generation.”

Judges also recognized Dakota Niebergau, an eighth-grade student at Rivesville Elementary/Middle School in Marion County, and Mia Pietranon, an eighth-grade student at St. Paul Catholic School in Weirton, as statewide runners-up. Their designs will appear with Taylor’s on the Attorney General’s website.

Judges recognized winning entries from 41 students overall. Taylor, Dakota, Mia and each of the regional winners will have their work displayed at the State Capitol in the fall.

The Attorney General received 3,366 entries from 3,521 students at 91 schools across West Virginia – the highest participation since Kids Kick Opioids began. The submissions included a mix of drawings, poems and other designs aimed at promoting awareness.

Kids Kick Opioids represents one of many initiatives through which the Attorney General has sought to combat West Virginia’s drug overdose death rate, including a lawsuit against the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration that achieved sweeping reforms to the nation’s drug quota system.

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.

The West Virginia State Medical Association, West Virginia Association of School Nurses and the Capitol Police assisted the Attorney General in judging the public service announcement contest.

Tyler Barker
Tyler Barker is currently the News Director and Digital Content Manager for WOAY-TV. He was promoted to this job in Mid-November. He still will fill in on weather from time to time. You can follow Tyler on Facebook and Twitter @wxtylerb. Have any news tips or weather questions? Email him at tbarker@woay.com