"Change begins with the youth," Clay County Health Nurse Jennifer Lucas said about the recent Clay County Tobacco Prevention Poster Contest's ability to reach area students. This is the third year for the project in the Clay Community Schools. "If we can educate children now of the danger of tobacco, their future choices can be different."
With 379 fifth-graders from nine local public and private elementary schools participating, the Health Department visited each school and distributed educational material on topics of smoking prevention, secondhand smoke and the need for those presently using tobacco products to quit.
Using the information as a base, students were asked to design billboards that got right to the heart of the matter: The danger of tabacco use.
"Capturing the emotion is the most important factor in determining a winner," Community Health Education Coordinator Jennifer Martin said about the difficult judging of this year's 145 entries. "It was a tough decision. They were all so well done."
Each school's winner received a T-shirt with the winning design on the front.
From those nine winners, a grand prize winner was choosen to have his or her design placed on a billboard. All participants in the contest received complimentary gifts from area businesses such as A+ Printing, A&W, Burger King, Hardees, Papa John's, Pizza Hut, Long John Silver's, Subway, Wal-Mart and Wendy's.
"We are so grateful to everyone for their help in educating the youth of our community," Lucas said.
The winning design will be displayed on several billboards throughout the summer months. Plans are in the works to have the entries placed on display at local businesses in the near future so that the community will be able to see how children are viewing tobacco products.
The winners from each school are:
GRAND PRIZE: Courtney Hetrick, Staunton Elementary
Alysha Meyers, Annunciation Catholic School
Morgan Holt, Meridian Elementary
Madolyn Greenley, Cornerstone Christian Academy
Emily Latta, East Side Elementary
Samantha Montague, Van Buren Elementary
Tyden Graverson, Forest Park Elementary
Carmela Roeschlein, Clay City Elementary
Macie Lynch & Shelly Nelson, (TIE) Jackson Township Elementary