June 1, 2007

Graffiti for a smoke-free youth

By Kristen Miller
Staff Writer

Dassel-Cokato junior Alvin Ploog had a lot of fun creating a graffiti banner in an effort to educate his peers about the dangers of tobacco use and, in the end, was awarded for it.

Ploog joined 12 other schools in Meeker, McLeod, and Sibley counties in a graffiti art contest for World No Tobacco Day, and won.

“It was fun being able to express my own ideas and at the same time, doing something good for the community,” Ploog said.

Each participant was given a plain, white banner, with the only requirements of the banner to use the slogan, “Support Youth and Take the Pledge – Smoke Free Homes and Cars,” in the composition of the banner.

The slogan was intended to educate the community about the importance of adopting voluntary tobacco free rules in homes and cars, according to Lisa Hicks-Ewald, coordinator of the Tobacco Free Youth Project.

With those guidelines, Ploog came up with his own thing and put a different twist to it, he said.

The boy on the poster, Ploog explained, is someone any normal teenager could relate to.

The spray paint can is supposed to represent mace warding off the cigarette. There are even tears.

The top half of the banner was done with spray paint, but due to the type of canvas, the banner was sticky. Therefore, Ploog did the rest in Sharpies.

Ploog went through four Sharpies coloring the shirt, and four with the pants, taking him twice as long as using spray paint, he said.

As a winner, Ploog received $150 towards classroom art supplies at a formal grand prize ceremony and youth rally May 31 at Central Park in Litchfield.

Jonathon Hartman, Ploog’s art teacher, was informed of the graffiti contest and thought it would be something Ploog would enjoy doing.

“I know the style he works in and thought it would be a good fit for him,” Hartman said.

Ploog has always been interested in graffiti. He has also taken two independent studies with Hartman including foundations and ceramics.

“I had a lot of fun on it,” Ploog said.

What is World No Tobacco Day?

“World No Tobacco Day” was celebrated May 31 across the world, from the US to China, to raise awareness about the toll of tobacco, according to Hicks-Ewald.

This day was designed to encourage the public to be tobacco free role models.

“Adults in our communities have a tremendous amount of influence on young people’s decisions to start using tobacco. Creating tobacco-free rules at home and in the community demonstrates to youth that tobacco use is not a healthy choice,” Hicks- Ewald said.

For the day, a youth rally took place at Litchfield’s Central Park, which included live music, free snow cones, popcorn, and pop.

At the rally, the graffiti contest awards were given out, including the award to Ploog for his graffiti art banner.

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