From an adult perspective, the life of a child might look like pure bliss, but we all know that childhood poses challenges and concerns for every generation. Like those before them, today’s kids have to tackle any number of issues surrounding their personal safety: school and playground upsets, traffic risks, household hazards, stranger danger, bullying. But they also have to live with many other issues that can provoke fear and anxiety, depending on their circumstances.
Fear of natural disasters like hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes and fires is a big one. The possibility of experiencing a school shooting can be a source of tremendous fear. The Internet can be a dangerous space for children and young teens. From cyberbullies and cyber-predators to social media posts that can come back to haunt them later in life, the hazards can be frightening. And, sadly, off the computer and in the confines of one’s own home can be equally dangerous and terrifying for kids who are dealing with domestic and child abuse.
Children need an outlet – indeed, many outlets – to express the concerns they so often feel and have a difficult time talking about. That’s where UCT comes in. For decades we’ve provided kids with a small, but important platform by sponsoring our UCT safety poster contest in local communities across North America. The contest contains two divisions, one for students under age 19 in public, private and parochial schools and another for individuals with intellectual disabilities in special education classes or dedicated facilities.
We don’t dictate what should constitute a safety concern – we leave that up to the kids who participate. However, only posters with safety subjects are considered. Poster judging is conducted on three levels for each division – the upper level for students in or comparable to grades 9-12, the middle level for students in or comparable to grades 6-8, and the lower level for those in or comparable to grades 3-5. One first place, two second place, and three third place posters are selected as winners on each level in both divisions. Posters are judged according to originality, artistic ability and clarity of content first at a local level, then at a regional level, and finally at the international level. Winners are awarded ribbons and cash prizes.
The safety poster contest is a great way for students and teachers to work together to address concerns and share possible solutions – and for students to use their imaginations and creativity to communicate about what troubles them about their safety. If you’re a teacher, we encourage you to contact us for more information – we can put you in touch with a UCT council in your area. If you’re a member, we urge you to share this information with schools and teachers in your community.
For more details about the contest or for guidelines for each contest division, visit our safety poster contest web page. You can also contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 800.848.0123 x1130. I’d love to help you get involved!