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Winners of Teen Contest Targeting Substance Abuse Could Get Up to $750

Friday is deadline for this drug prevention-oriented contest sponsored by the Rockwood Drug-Free Coalition.

Rockwood community students in grades six through 12 can enter a local, first-ever contest about substance abuse. The contest is being sponsored by the Rockwood Drug-Free Coalition, and is open to students throughout the area, including students in private and home school educational programs.

Rockwood students from the immediate Ballwin and Ellisville areas—specifically , , and —automatically are eligible.

The idea for this contest was started at the end of October to engage students in community prevention, said Jenny Armbruster, Eastern Regional Support Center coordinator for the Missouri Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Funded Regional Support Center of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse.

Rockwood Drug-Free Coalition staff and volunteer members focus on creating a safe, drug-free environment for everyone, but particularly youth, she said. "As we do this, it is SO important to involve youth and understand their perception of the community."

Armbruster said shifts in drug trends include an increase in prescription drug abuse and heroin abuse. "Marijuana use also continues to be very high," she said.

"We purposely left the instructions (of this contest) vague to really capture the youth perspective. We know what data and surveys tell us, but want to see what the youth see!"

Posters and public service announcements will be judged separately. Posters should be created on 11-by-17-inch poster board, and public service announcement entries should be 30 seconds in length. All entries must include one substance abuse fact, which can come from a variety of sources.

Entries from sixth through eighth grade students will be judged in a separate category than students in high school, so there will be six middle school winners and six high school winners. One people's choice award will be awarded as well.

First place in the poster category will award $500, second place $300, and third place $200. First place in the public service announcement category will earn the winner $750, second place $500 and third place $250.

An awards ceremony is planned for Feb. 23 at the in Wildwood, said Armbruster. Winning entries will be aired and displayed throughout the Rockwood community. She said they are in discussions with staffers about having the winning entries available at the park throughout the season.

Funding for the local coalition is provided through a federal Drug-Free Communities grant award, as well as additional state and regional grant awards and in-kind contributions from many community partners.

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