February has been nationally recognized as Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month since 2010, and Safe Journey is holding it's third poster contest for Corry Area School District and Union City Area School District to help raise awareness.
Safe Journey has been working with both school districts since January, asking students in grades six through 12 to create a poster to help raise awareness and prevent teen dating violence.
"One of the reasons that we try to get this out is because it shows that 81% of parents do not realize that their teens are involved in teen dating violence," Safe Journey Counselor and Advocate Kim Pederson said.
Poster submissions should include information on teen dating violence awareness and do not need to contain images.
"They can do what love is, what love isn't, they can do statistics," Pederson said. "We give them different websites they can go to."
Winning submissions are not based on artistic background but are based on the information that is provided, and the ability to show knowledge on the subject, Pederson said.
This week, Safe Journey counselor advocates were at Corry Area Middle-High School, 534 E. Pleasant St., during the lunch period to help raise awareness. Next week, Safe Journey will be at Union City Middle-High School, 105 Concord St.
"The more that we are out in the community — into the schools doing presentations, doing a PTA meeting, getting this word out — means that more parents are aware that children are truly going through this," Pederson said.
Counselor Advocate Mandi Kerr said each day had a different activity during lunch to interact with students as she and the other counselor advocates, Jordan Sipe and Kayla Northrop, spread the word about the poster contest.
On Monday, laminated hearts with teen dating statistics were handed out and students could spin a wheel to win things like ear buds, water bottles, wristbands, pencils and candy.
Paper hearts were given out on Tuesday and students were asked to write on the heart his or her idea of love.
One heart was returned bearing the sentence, "Love is when people accept you for who you are, not what they want you to be." On another heart was just one word, "Family."
A photo booth frame and fun signs were provided for students on Wednesday.
Kerr said there were about 40 students who participated in groups to take photos with the provided materials.
Students were encouraged to wear orange today, the color that represents teen dating violence awareness, and orange ribbons will be given out. The winner of the poster contest will be announced during lunch today as well.
The winner will receive a gift basket. Last year there were about 10 contest submissions, Pederson said.
Kerr is one of two counselor advocates available at CAHS. Kerr is at the school on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The other is a male who is at the school on Wednesdays, but would be available on more days as needs for his services dictates.
There is also a female counselor advocate, Rainey Beach, that goes to the Union City Area Middle-High School one day every week, whose presence could be expands as need arises.