Franklin — Starting in November, a new series of anti-tobacco billboards will be posted throughout the city. All of the billboard artwork was contributed by seventh-graders in the Franklin School District.
The city's health department held its 19th annual Truth about Tobacco billboard contest this summer, when seventh-graders were encouraged to create artwork that expressed the dangers of smoking and secondhand smoke.
The Franklin program began in 1995, when Franklin students were included in a similar Milwaukee billboard contest, said public health nurse Kathy Hahn, who organizes the local contest each year.
"Each year, I give presentations to Franklin's seventh-graders about the dangers of tobacco and the companies that try to appeal to kids through manipulative advertisement," Hahn said. "This contest is just one way to keep the public aware of the danger of tobacco."
Each student that participated in the contest received a coupon for Cousins Subs, who has been a strong supporter of the program for years, she added.
A panel of about 13 judges, which included an assortment of city and school officials, recently chose five winners of the contest. Those winners are Sierra Block, Ben Marz, Jordan Gawlitta, Katie Lehman and Karissa DeMotto.
"I think the contest is very beneficial for Franklin and offers an important way for students to convey a message from their heart, peer to peer," said Franklin School Board President and Alderwoman Janet Evans, who was enlisted as one of the contest's judges. "You really have to give credit to those kids who are willing to stand up and make a difference."
Revenue from Franklin's tobacco licenses, which tobacco sellers are required to pay once a year, will be used to fund the expense of using the city's billboards.
"I think it's a great way for the city to use part of that license money to prevent smoking," Evans said.
The student winners will have their artwork displayed on a billboard in Franklin — each submission posted for one month — between November and March.
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