Students Raise Awareness of Opioid Misuse and Prevention through OpiEndYouth Challenge

Innovations & Initiatives, Transforming Communities


artist depiction of opioid misuse

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve worldwide, it's important that we also maintain focus on the opioid epidemic affecting rural, suburban, and urban areas across America. Centene’s OpiEnd™ program employs early intervention to prevent opioid misuse and serves as a resource for Centene's provider network and our millions of members.

The OpiEnd Youth Challenge is an important component of OpiEnd's community outreach. The targeted curriculum for individuals ages nine through 14 raises awareness about opioid misuse and prevention. As part of this national challenge, students shared their understanding of the opioid epidemic by developing and submitting campaign messaging that depicted ways to prevent misuse.

Centene recently announced three national winners of the OpiEnd Youth Challenge who were selected from more than 180 submissions across 19 states. The submissions illustrated awareness of opioid misuse and addiction, included an original innovative concept, and creatively identified ways to help solve the opioid crisis. The three winning messages are included below:

National Winner: 1st Place

national winner drawing first place

Title: The Tracks We Leave

State: California


National Winner: 2nd Place

national winner drawing second place

Title: Hard to Escape

State: Hawaii


National Winner: 3rd Place

national winner art third place

Title: n/a

State: Arizona


Centene leadership praised the effectiveness of the top ideas. "We are living through an unprecedented time with the COVID-19 pandemic, which has also presented particularly unique challenges for those struggling with addiction and recovery," said Ken Yamaguchi, M.D., Executive Vice President, Chief Medical Officer for Centene. "These students did an impressive job of depicting the impact the ongoing opioid epidemic has on our communities."

A virtual award ceremony held on May 26 applauded the efforts of all the OpiEnd Youth Challenge participants and gave the three winners an opportunity to discuss the inspiration behind their work. 

Martha Smith, the President and CEO of Centene's Arizona Health plan, Arizona Complete Health, praised the contributions from Arizona and across the nation. "I am proud that we had a really large number of participants from our state and applaud our national winners. I think the images that you've created will help shed light on this critical issue and really move people to action. Congratulations to everyone that participated in this contest," said Martha Smith.