LAKE PLACID - Armed with boxes of chalk, students of the Lake Placid Middle High School hit the Olympic Oval on June 1 to create self-portraits - and other creative works.
The creative gathering was part of a poster project coordinated between the Lake Placid/Wilmington Connecting Youth & Communities Coalition (CYC), local artist Naj Wikoff and Lake Placid art teachers Ann Rickard and Sandy Payne. It represents the fourth year of a media campaign aimed at bringing alcohol and drug abuse prevention to the community's attention while at the same time taking advantage of the talents of local students.
On Friday, the students hit the Oval during their lunch break, and most of them appeared to enjoy being able to create an image with a variety of colored chalks.
Lake Placid Middle High School students draw self-portraits June 1 on the Olympic Oval.
Photo/Richard Rosentreter/Lake Placid News
"I think this project makes the kids think a little bit more about their place in the community and to help them realize that the art room extends beyond the four walls of the classroom," Rickard said. "They may not show it so much on the outside, but you can tell they all know what the I Matter theme is about and that they are all proud to be involved because they want to see where their posters are displayed in town."
"Kids hate to be talked at," said Wikoff, the CYC arts coordinator. "Ads that show lots of violence or horrific outcomes do not impress them as there is so much violence on TV, in video games and in the movies. What they want is to be heard and treated with respect, and to have the opportunity to discuss issues. They want to know how their parents dealt with difficult problems. The arts can be a great conversation starter."
More than 130 kids participated in the initial creation of portraits, which were used to illustrate six different themes, such as, "Ask me what I am thinking," or "Let's talk about alcohol," or "I deserve your time and attention." Each student was given a poster to take home, and other copies will be distributed throughout Lake Placid and Wilmington. In addition, 6 large 3 x 5 banners were printed for display at various public events. Then on Friday kids poured outside to create still more portraits and engage with the local media as a means of further getting out the message that kids want to have conversations with adults.
"Really I think there is two messages," said CYC president Mary Dietrich. "The first is that kids are important to our community. They have great ideas. They are enthusiastic. When they make a commitment it is 100 percent. They are an untapped resource. The message is we want to conserve this valuable resource and alcohol, tobacco and drug use endangers that. It is important for parents, really all adults, to talk with kids about the dangers of drinking alcohol, using tobacco and drug use. Studies show that if parents take the time to talk with their children they are less likely abuse alcohol during their life.
"The other message is that CYC has the tools to help parents start those conversations. We are willing to come and speak for free to any group, especially those with parents in attendance, and provide materials that can help them have those conversations."
Dietrich, Wikoff, Rickard and coalition coordinator Angel Marvin were all on the Oval last week helping students make the most out of the chalk experience.
"We wanted to take a slightly different approach to help stimulate the conversations and help the kids showcase their individual personalities," Rickard said.
For more information about the Connecting Youth & Communities Coalition, visit its website at www.connectingyouth.com.
Anyone wishing to schedule a presentation by CYC or get a poster, may contact Angel Marvin at firstname.lastname@example.org or 518-637-7354.
Naj Wikoff contributed
to this report