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Students use posters to battle drugs

A large number of students gave a big thumbs-down to drugs while chasing some big prizes offered in a poster contest at Tusarvik Elementary School and Tuugaalik High School in Naujaat earlier this month.

photo courtesy of Lloyd Francis
Grade 10 students Kasandra Katokra (third), Melanie Qaqqasiq (first) and Terance Mapsalak (second), from left, are Tuugaalik High School's top winners in Father Daniel Scwarc's drugs are not cool poster contest in Naujaat on Jan. 15.

The contest was organized by Father Daniel Scwarc, and it gave students from Jan. 9 to 12 the chance to construct a poster that conveyed the message that drugs are not cool.

The posters were judged on Jan. 15 with the top 11 from each school winning big prizes. There was also a random draw held for participating students in each school that featured five brand-new iPods as prizes.

Each student who participated in the contest also received a T-shirt and hoodie emblazoned with the message that drugs are not cool.

A total of 208 elementary posters and 95 junior-and-senior-high posters were submitted to the contest.

Father Scwarc said the main reason he decided to organize the contest was because of the federal government's decision to legalize marijuana this coming July.

He said many people think when something is legal, that means it's good and that's not true.

"With this being so close, I was thinking that we had to do something to show the young kids that drugs are not good, even if they've been made legal," said Father Scwarc.

"Starting with marijuana can definitely lead to using other drugs, but I'm from Naujaat and I don't know how many heavy drugs we actually have here.

"But marijuana is present in Naujaat and it creates lots of problems in the community, and I believe when kids start with marijuana it will be easier for them to get into heavier drugs when they get older."

Father Scwarc, who has been in Naujaat for the past 10 years, said he is very happy with the response the contest received from the two schools.

He said his goal was to get kids asking questions about the negative effects of drugs through their participation.

"I had one teenage girl come to me during the week they had to draw their posters, and she said she was searching on the internet for something to draw when she found text about drugs.

"She told me she started to read it and she really liked what it had to say, and that was my goal, to make them think about, and to make them search for, the negative impact of drugs.

"The kids were encouraged to enter the contest because of the prizes, which I put together to have the 'wow' effect, and I think I was successful with that.

"Some kids do drugs, but still enter the contest to try and win a prize and you can't avoid that, but, in Naujaat, there are many young people who have never done drugs and are totally against them, so having more kids finding information and asking questions about the negative effects of drugs can only, I would hope, increase their numbers and that's a good thing whether it's legal or not."