As each poster was revealed of their drawing, they had submitted for a local art contest, both Shelby Devinney and Angel Moses’ eyes widen with excitement. “They are beautiful,” was the common consensus for all who were present.
In honor of National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Month in May, the student assistance program at Craig County Schools (a prevention/intervention program) sponsored a poster campaign. SAMSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) sponsors several activities for National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day, which occurred this year on May 10.
Joan Landolt is the Student Assistance Program Coordinator, who for over five years, has been providing mental health services in Craig County, including the schools. She is also a licensed clinical social worker.
“In January I was contracted to facilitate the Student Assistance Program at Craig County Schools which provides prevention and counseling-intervention services to students elementary through high school,” Landolt said. “Funding for this program is through a Safe and Drug-Free School Grant.”
In previous years, they sponsored national poster contests. This year, however, the decision was made to focus on having a school-wide competition.
Its focus was, “Bringing together children’s mental and physical health.” Open to all students, the poster competition theme was “Heroes of Hope.” Landolt was excited to receive over 200 submissions. Several students submitted their drawings. Two were chosen as winners as well as a runner-up.
Shelby Devinney, a rising seventh grader, and Angel Moses, a rising ninth grader, were the chosen winners. Landolt noted that Shelby’s poster “Life Is A Mural” speaks to the complexity of life and the power we can have in our journey. Angle’s poster “Heroes of Hope” is timely and fun with its superheroes.
Runner-up Emmie Redford, a sixth grader, had a poster with the theme of “HOPE.”
“I couldn’t be more proud of the students who participated as there were many amazing posters for the teachers to consider as they voted on the winners,” Landolt said.
All three girls received prizes featuring gift cards to local eateries and tickets to a show. The winners also received the honor of having their poster made into a banner to be hung at Food Country. “The banners were made possible by the donation of Fastsigns in Salem,” Landolt added.
“Art sets me free,” Devinney shared. “If you really think about it, we really can do anything that we want.”
Devinney also shared that in her drawing “Life is a Mural,” she was thinking about the many difficulties people face and how they quickly get caught up in them.
“It’s like you’re creating your own life’s story,” she said as she pointed at her drawing of a person walking with colored bubbles. “So basically, the person is jumping through their own creativity every time they walk or make a move.”
She added that it is one’s own story that they get to choose what to do. “The dripping of paint from the feet is like as you are walking, you are leaving a paint spot or your own mark where you are going,” Devinney said.
Moses also loves to draw. When asked how much, she emphatically said, “a lot!” Her banner showed many action figures that represent hope for different kids. “They are kittens and the rabbit from Sonic,” she said.
Among her other drawings include one holding a white saber like from Star Wars, one holding a board to teach, one doing martial arts, a secret agent, one with laser vision, one throwing his crown, one with thunder powers, knights and a tooth fairy.
David Stephen, Manager of Food Country, was pleased to hang the posters in front of the store for all to see. Devinney and Moses smiled as he positioned the posters on the wall. “We are happy to be a part of our community here and support our kids,” he said.
Landolt shared that this year, the Student Assistance Program also focused prevention efforts on “making good choices” for Prom.
During junior/senior lunch on Thursday before prom, students attending were asked to sign a “Prom Promise” poster pledging to make healthy choices.
“The students who pledged entered their name for drawings for prizes including free Mani’s and Pedi’s donated by Claire V and tickets to the Professional Bull Riders show at Roanoke Civic Center,” Landolt said. “We had approximately 60 percent of the students pledged to make healthy choices.”
She also noted that Dustin Persinger with McCleary Elementary had the students write letters asking the prom attendees to make healthy choices. In addition, they drew on their letters a picture of what they thought prom would look like, and the letters were handed out to the students the Friday before Prom.
“The main focus is to bring awareness to the community,” Landolt said. “We wish to say thanks to all those who supported the poster campaign and to David Stephens at Food Country for his support in providing the location for displaying these banners that highlight community wellness.”