The International Lions Club is sponsoring a peace poster contest for children 11-13 years old. Last year 325,000 youths participated, and the interest seems to be growing.
The art contest starts at the local level, then moves to the state level, before proceeding to national and international levels.
The winner of the worldwide project gets a trip to New York and an opportunity to address the United Nations. The Lions Club hopes that these world powerhouses will be moved by the art of the innocents and listen to a child’s plea for peace.
In Spartanburg, the Lions Club chose the students at St. Paul Catholic School for the contest. Jim Reilly, the president of the local Lions Club, said the school’s curriculum was a perfect fit for the contest.
Forty-four children participated, with social studies teacher Grechin Cline spearheading the event.
“We talked about peace beginning with us and then branching out,” Cline said. “We looked at it from a religious aspect and from a social studies aspect.”
The class has talked about Iraq and the Middle East. They read about soldiers from Spartanburg killed in action overseas.
“Many of these students have someone they know who is involved in the war,” Cline said.
To them, the war is personal. So they drew from that experience.
“We also talked about local peace,” Cline said, “about fighting with our brothers and sisters.”
Their theme was “Creating a Better Tomorrow.”
Cline was amazed by her young artists. With October being a special month to pray the rosary, Cline said she saw plenty of rosaries drawn into the posters. She also saw peace doves and a lot of peace signs straight out of the 1960s emerge in the drawings.
The contest to pick one winner from the local pool was tough. Lions Club member Pam Rice recruited art professors Tresa Prader from Converse College and Peter Smunk from Wofford College.
The experts chose Kristyn Winch as the winner at the local level. Her depiction of hands from different cultures all coming together in a peace sign, with the world as a backdrop, was remarkable.
“It was vibrant. It had bold colors, and it involved a lot of different symbols, each representing some area of peace,” Prader said.
Smunk said he was drawn by the “forcefulness of visual expression.” He thought the hands coming together to form a peace sign was quite insightful. The peace sign, he said, has a clear communicative value and is easy to grasp.
Kristyn received a $100 gift certificate from the Lions Club, and her poster moves on to the state contest.