Lake Placid Central School students draw chalk portraits on the Lake Placid Olympic Center speedskating oval June 1, part of to rally community support for a drug and alcohol awareness program. About 130 students from grades 6 through 12 participated in the temporary art project, drawing self portraits and other drawings to raise awareness for an upcoming poster campaign.
The students at Lake Placid Central School took their art and boxes of chalk to the Olympic Oval to rally community support for a drug and alcohol awareness program on June 1.
About 130 students from grades 6 through 12 participated in the temporary art project, drawing self-portraits and other drawings to raise awareness for an upcoming poster campaign of self portraits drawn by students titled “I Matter.”
The Lake Placid/Wilmington Connecting Youth & Communities Coalition developed the campaign to encourage communication between adults and students about destructive decisions.
“We want to mobilize the community to help prevent underage drinking, and hopefully everyone will look at the environmental factors that influence these activities,” LPCS Art Teacher Sandy Huber said.
The Coalition is a non profit organization formed to address teenage substance abuse in Essex County. For the campaign, the coalition partnered with LPCS art teachers — Huber and Anne Rickard — and local artist Naj Wikoff to bring alcohol and drug abuse prevention to the community’s attention and to showcase the students’ talents.
Some students drew the Batman Symbol, graffiti style artwork, body outlines and their own version of self-portrait on the cement, getting chalk-covered hands and knees.
Seventh-grade student Saylor Grady said her sidewalk self-portraits are a series of different characters she draws.
“They represent different parts of who I am,” Grady said, as she drew the final touches to the comic book characters from her own books.
Three-hundred of the students’ posters have been made and will be distributed throughout the area in town centers in Lake Placid, Wilmington and Keene.
The self-portraits theme “I Matter” and features one of six tag lines: “Let’s Talk,” “Ask me what I am thinking,” “Let’s talk about alcohol,” “Kids want your time and attention,” and “Ask me about drugs, tobacco or alcohol.”
“All of the posters the students have made are different; some have been abstract and psychological displays of who they are and others are more realistic,” Wikoff said. “We want people to see these posters and encourage them to talk with their kids about drugs, alcohol and violence, not talk over them and say, ‘Dont do this,’ ‘Don’t do that,’ but actually engage their kids because the kids want to talk about this.”
Wikoff has been working with the Coalition for three years. He said art helped him get through difficult times as a teenager in Lake Placid.
“When I was a student here, bullying was a real problem, and I used my art to cope with that,” Wikoff said.
Another resource Wikoff had that helped him as when he was a student was the continued support of both teachers and adults in the community. He said he hopes this project can allow the students express how they feel and invite adults to address these problems with their kids.
“Kids want to be heard, and they want to hear what their parents think about alcohol and other substances, and the choices they made, good and bad, growing up,” said Mary Dietrich, president of Lake Placid/Wilmington Connecting Youth & Communities Coalition.
Dietrich said the program is based on studies that have show a parent’s opinion really matter to their kids.
“The more quality time that parents spend with kids, the better their children will do in school and the more likely they will be to make good choices as they go through life,” Dietrich said.
By noon on Friday, the white portion of the oval was covered in multi-colored works of chalk art. Wikoff said he plans on doing more art projects with the coalition including a mural to be put up in the Wilmington Tunnel this summer with help from members of the Wilmington Youth Center.
For more information about the Connecting Youth & Communities Coalition go to their website at www.connectingyouth.com.