Art Contest for Elementary School Children: Deadline January 31st

B Stigma-Free and National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Fairfield are accepting entries from Connecticut Kindergarten – 5th grade students for the “Through My Eyes” Art Contest. The deadline for entries is January 31, 2014. Young artists are encouraged to share their feelings and experiences through 2-dimensional art about how it feels when someone is unkind to them because of a difference.

Differences take many forms. It might be that a child is not wearing the latest style boots, or has red hair. It might also be a disability or a social challenge. The purpose of the art contest is to help start a dialogue about differences, and help people accept one another.

“This contest provides area children with an opportunity to get involved in community efforts to raise understanding and combat the stigma associated with mental illness,” said Judy Gardner, President of NAMI Fairfield. Mental illness affects one in four people, but many are uncomfortable talking about it due to stigma and shame.

Loretta Jay and Cheryll Houston are NAMI Fairfield Board members and co-founders of B Stigma-Free. “We want to break down negative images that people may have when someone is different from them. By encouraging our young community members to share their ideas and experiences through art, we hope to foster a culture of compassion,” said Ms. Jay. Ms. Houston is eager to engage children in this project. “Involving kids in dialogue about differences, and subsequently mental illness, will ideally prevent barriers from forming that we as adults oftentimes get stuck with.”

The young artists’ work will be featured during a two-day gallery showing at the Kershner Art Gallery located in the Fairfield Public Library on February 24-25, 2014. The art Opening and award ceremony will take place on Monday, February 24 at 5:00 pm.

The contest is the second part of Stigma-Free CT’s 2013 campaign to promote messages of hope and support, encourage positive beliefs and attitudes about living with mental illness, and dispel myths and stereotypes that cause stigma. In the spring a successful Essay Contest was held; essays can be found at www.StigmaFreeCT.com. Stigma-Free CT is a collaboration between NAMI Fairfield and B Stigma-Free, an advocacy, education and awareness organization.

The art contest is open to elementary school children living in Connecticut. Prizes will be awarded from Yellow Moon Toy Store (Fairfield), Silver Ribbon jewelry store (Westport) and Game Stop. A panel of NAMI Fairfield Board Members and community representatives will choose the winners. Artwork will be judged on the ability to motivate action or inspire change, creativity and originality, and content and authenticity. For more information and the complete list of Rules and Regulations, please visit the Stigma-Free CT’s website at www.StigmaFreeCT.com

For more information on NAMI Fairfield’s mental health efforts and supportive services, please visit www.NAMIFairfield.org

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