MANSFIELD — Local students could see their artwork on billboards around Mansfield this year.
The Richland County Youth Substance Use Coalition recently announced its first drug and alcohol prevention art contest. To participate, students must create a poster, flyer, billboard design, artwork, YouTube or TikTok video, haiku, poem or meme that has a drug/alcohol prevention message.
“We would like this to be as student-led as possible, giving them a voice, letting them have fun along the way and learning the importance of substance-use prevention,” said Gurpinder Deol of Richland Public Health.
The RCYSUC was formed after receiving federal funding from the Drug-Free Communities program in October of 2019. The coalition works to reduce youth substance use and promote healthy activities.
Chairwoman Crystal Davis Weese said the group chose a student art contest in an effort to make the coalition’s work youth-led.
“We want to be impacted by their views and thoughts on prevention,” she said. “We understand that solutions only come from those impacted by the problem.”
Creators must be attending elementary, middle or high school. Students can work alone, with a group or create as a class.
The deadline for submissions is Jan. 31 at 10 a.m. After Jan. 31, submissions that meet the participation criteria will be voted on by students on the RCYSUC’s website.
A select few will be placed on billboards in Mansfield, others will be shared via social media, local news and on the RCYSUC website.
There are also prizes up for grabs, including $100 gift cards, Cedar Point passes and a class pizza party.
“We want this to be a campaign to not only educate students and the community at large, but recognize students for the excellent work they are doing,” Deol said.
Winners will be announced in early February.
Submissions must use family-friendly language and images.
The RCYSUC is also looking for youth interested in joining the coalition. Members of the coalition are assigned to committees based on their interests and skillset, but may assist with communications, prevention education and youth-centered activities, future contests or the RCYSUC’s social media platforms.
“I think it vital that we involve students in the process, because we value them, and know that leadership doesn’t have to have an age or big corner office, it just takes the willingness to be a part of the process,” Weese said.