Each October, YWCA associations across the country take part in Week Without Violence to raise awareness about the devastating effects of domestic violence. This year, YW3CA is focused on an issue closer to home: gun violence. A shared experience across generations, gun violence has impacted countless members of our community. As YW works toward its mission of promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all, it builds an educated community that is safe and peaceful for future generations to thrive and excel. By raising awareness of the impacts that gun violence has had in our own community, we can focus on a better, brighter future for generations to come.
Here at YW3CA we not only want to encourage students to focus on larger, country and world-wide issues, but also invite them to raise awareness and advocate for prejudicial-violence that is happening in their very own communities. We are using this week to raise awareness of the need to combat hate, violence, bigotry and racism that still exists and leads to violence in our communities.
We challenge the youth of today – talk about the social injustices you see around you – in your community and nationally. This year specifically we are encouraging participating students to focus artwork on three distinct themes: Indigenous People’s Day / Ending Gun Violence / Promoting Peace, Justice, Freedom & Dignity for All.
Youth grades 5th-12th were invited to submit unique artwork centered around the three distinct themes. Artists were encouraged to use large lettering, few words, heavy lines, and strong colors. The artwork was judged on the following criteria: theme, creativity, neatness, originality, and visual effectiveness.
The 1st, 2nd, & 3rd place winners from each age category (5th-8th and 9th-12th) were celebrated at the YW3CA Artist Reception on December 3, 2019.
Lyana, at Reading School District, won first place in the middle school age category. Lyana commented on her artwork stating, “I drew this piece because the hand stands for freedom with peace and justice. Give people some peace, justice, and freedom. That’s all we ask for.”
Kaelyn, at Owen J. Roberts School District, won second place for her artwork in the middle school age category. “I drew this picture to represent that no matter your skin tone, everyone is equal and deserve the same rights and happiness.”
The 3rd place winner in the middle school age category is Dakota at Pottsgrove School District. “My artwork expresses peace and justice to those apart of the LGBTQT community. As well as showing that they are equal and no different than person not part of the community.”
The 1st place winner in the high school age category is Ebriana at Antietam School District. “Personally, I feel as though everyone should be allowed to be who they are, as long as it isn’t affecting anyone else in a negative way. With the help of my cast of original characters, I decided to show six people being proud of who they are, with me as some sort of motivational speaker. Identity and expression is VERY important to me, so I hope one day everyone can be their unfiltered self, like I am.”
The 2nd place winner in the high school age category is Lily at Wyomissing School District. “Specifically, I choose to promoted the equality of the LGBTQ, and in general, equality for all kinds of genders and identities. The hands joined represent this peace, with the fluid colors in between the skins representing the different types of gender. The rainbow colors in the peace sign, respectively, represent the LGBTQ’s signature symbol. ‘Together’ means the joining of all of our communities and support for the LGBTQ and each-other.”
The 3rd place winner in the high school age category is Emmerson at Wyomissing School District. “MY piece is about our future if we don’t start fixing some of these problems now. Like racism, gun violence, climate crisis, poverty and overall hatred. I hope my piece serves as a warning and allows people to realize that we need to change the path we are headed down right now, and spread love to others.”
Keep an eye out on our social media to see ALL the incredible artwork that was submitted for this year’s Week Without Violence Youth Art Contest.
YW3CA’s Youth Empowerment Program works with youth—and their families—to help them make the healthy choices that will follow them throughout their lives. What began as simple nutrition and fitness education for girls, Youth Empowerment Program has grown to include enrichment, leadership, and empowerment for girls, interactive cooking classes for families, and fitness for preschool children. For more information about our Youth Empowerment Program and how you can get involved, visit www.ywcatricountyarea.org/what-we-do/yep/.