MANSFIELD – The Richland County Youth Substance Use Coalition has announced its second annual drug & alcohol prevention art contest.
The contest aims to get youth involved in creating and promoting anti-substance abuse messaging among their peers. Students in grades K-12 can enter by creating a poster, flyer, video, haiku, poem, meme or other work of art with 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 during last year’s competition.
Last year’s contest garnered 21 entries.
“This year, we have 16 already and that’s all from just one school, so I’m expecting a much better turnout,” Deol said.
All entries must be submitted online or via email by Feb. 2. Between Feb. 2 and Feb. 20, students in Richland County will have the chance to vote for their favorites. Top submissions will win a $100 gift card. Runners-up will be eligible for other gift cards.
“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.
Winning entries will be shared by agencies across Richland County via the RCYSUC newsletter and on the websites and social media accounts of the RCYSUC and partner organizations.
In order to be eligible, submissions must use family-friendly language and images. Students can work alone, with a group or with their class.
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.”
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. They 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.