Blue Cross Recognizes Local Students for Creating Drug Prevention Videos
Zachary High School team earns first place in HOPE Initiative Program contest

March 14, 2023

BATON ROUGE, La – High school students in the Capital Area want their peers to know about the danger of using opioid drugs, especially with increasing overdose deaths related to fentanyl. In Louisiana, nearly 1,000 people died from taking drugs with fentanyl in 2021. 

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana sponsored a contest in partnership with the HOPE Initiative Program, Capital Region Crime Stoppers and I Care Program, asking local students to create original video messages about drug safety, prevention and awareness. The team from Zachary High School produced the video that came in first, but Blue Cross will work with each team to create social media versions of their videos. The students and sponsoring organizations will all share the videos on their social media channels to help spread the word.

“People used to worry about illegal drugs but today, drug abuse typically starts in the home medicine cabinet,” said Kandyce Cowart, Blue Cross Special Investigations manager. “With the added danger of what appear to be prescription or other drugs potentially laced with fentanyl, people may not know what they are really taking. Their first time trying a drug could be the last time because of overdose and death. It’s very important to be aware of all the risks, especially for younger people who could end up struggling with a lifelong addiction issue.” 

“Teens may not want to listen to their parents, teachers or other adults, but they will often listen to their friends,” said Kathie Wylie, a member of Capital Region Crime Stoppers. “We held this contest to give students an opportunity to learn more about the current dangers of experimenting with drugs, see what hits home for them, then take that message to their classmates.”  

Student teams from Istrouma High School, McKinley High School and Zachary High School produced original video Public Service Announcement (PSA) messages for the contest about the effects of using drugs, including developing abuse or addiction issues, moving on to more dangerous drugs, and dying of an overdose. 

Blue Cross held an awards reception for all contest participants on March 7, announcing the winners: 

First place: Zachary High School Team – see the winning video in its original form (1:59)

Second place: Istrouma High School Team #1

Third place: Tie between Istrouma High School Team #2 and McKinley High School Team

“Our mission is to improve the health and lives of Louisianians, and drug safety education and awareness are certainly an important way we do that,” said Michael Tipton, Blue Cross Foundation president and head of Community Relations. “We were truly impressed with the quality of the students’ work and the power of the messages they created. We look forward to helping them reach more people with their videos so we can do our part to prevent future overdoses and deaths.” 

Each team received a cash prize for their participation, and WAFB will air Zachary High School’s winning video. 

Hometown Productions produced a video news release of the banquet with remarks from the students and contest sponsors. (2:59)

Follow Blue Cross on social media @BCBSLA to see the students’ PSA videos once produced. You can like and share their messages on your personal social media channels. Blue Cross posts regularly on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and TikTok. Visit the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana YouTube channel to see short videos on various health topics. Subscribe to know when new videos are added. 

About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is committed to our mission to improve the health and lives of Louisianians. Founded in New Orleans in 1934, we are a tax-paying nonprofit health insurer with offices in every major region to serve our customers. We have been recognized for the past four years as an honoree of The Civic 50, named by Points of Light as one of the 50 most community-minded companies in the United States.  

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. We are a private mutual company, owned by our policyholders, with an independent Louisiana Board of Directors and no shareholders. We invite all Louisianians to visit our website at or talk to us on social media @BCBSLA.