“Give peace a chance,” said John Lennon and that’s what the Happy Hoods art contest was all about. The contest sought kids’ input in a multi-state, youth-oriented, anti-bullying campaign.
The Happy Hoods Anti-Bullying Art Contest was held for several awareness-raising reasons, explained the program’s founder, Carri Coudek.
“I wanted to get kids involved … to have a say … Their voices need to be heard.” And, Coudek added, “their artwork encouraged me to put together presentation kits” for implementation by schools, youth groups and any other interested parties.
Aside from the joy of creative expression, giving voice to bullying solutions and winning prizes, contestants knew winning artwork would “be part of the Happy Hoods anti-bullying program,” said Coudek.
There were four Happy Hoods art contest winners. First contest entrant Bayli Liscio, 14, illustrated her poster with the slogan, “Children Need to Blossom, Put an End to Bullying.” Tami Anderson, 13, made the statement, “We Got Your Back, Happy Hoods Says ‘Stop It’ to Bullies.” The two-artist team of Jillian Winfree, 8, and Ana Martinez, 13, created a poster that states, “Live Fully, Love Truly, Don’t Be a Bully.”
As they waited for their awards presentation at The Inyo Register on Friday, Aug. 17, the girls sat together, introducing themselves to one another, asking each other what schools they went to, what grade they were in and so on, said Coudek. They were fellowshipping – the opposite of bullying.
“The winners were presented with their Happy Hoods sweatshirt and they took the anti-bullying pledge,” said Coudek, which she gives to each and ever person who buys one of her hoodies.
The girls were “really excited about winning … about taking the anti-bullying pledge and that their artwork will be in schools” in California and Nevada, said Coudek. Eventually, their artwork will be displayed on Happy Hoods’ website, which is under construction.
Anderson, Liscio, Martinez and Winfree’s winning artwork is being turned into posters, explained Coudek, which, along with hoodies, wristbands and pledge slips, will comprise Happy Hoods presentation kits. The kits will be distributed to schools and youth groups to use in their anti-bullying campaigns, she said. As a matter of fact, “Home Street Middle School is actually taking on Happy Hoods for their anti-bullying program this year,” said Coudek. Principal Patrick Twomey has even adopted Coudek’s smiley-face hoodies as the school’s official shirt, she added; “the school name will be printed on the sleeve.”
At some point, there will be a school-wide assembly at Home Street Middle School, said Coudek, during which the entire student body and faculty will take the anti-bullying pledge. “That’s the hope,” she said.
There are two versions of the Happy Hoods anti-bullying pledge. Youngsters recite, “I pledge to be kind, considerate and thoughtful towards others and I pledge not to bully.” Older pledge-takers, swear an additional oath to intervene whenever they see any bullying happen, said Coudek. She encourages youth to report bullying to reliable adults. The pledge strives to help people be aware and accountable because bullying affects everyone, said Coudek. According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, “bullying has far reaching effects on the victim, the bully and the bystander.”
The contest judging panel was comprised of 10 teens, some of whom have given anti-bullying presentations to Inyo County Health and Human Service. These young women speak eloquently on the subject, said Coudek, “because they had experience being bullied and they know the long-lasting effects of the emotional abuse” inherent in bullying.
Coudek gave a big thank-you to all the other contestants: Rosalind Cardenas, Lexi Halfen, Samantha Peters, Abby Santiago, Anthony Vega, Martin Woollard and Michael Woollard. See The Inyo Register’s upcoming Saturday issue for photos of all contestant artwork.
Happy Hoods is “living a life of it’s own … I’m the founder and facilitator,” Coudek said, “but Happy Hoods is in charge.” That in-charge attitude will come in handy at Tri-County Fair Demolition Derby – Happy Hoods will be a sponsor. If anti-bullying and demolition derby sounds like a paradoxical combo, Coudek explained with a chuckle, “Hopefully we will win because we didn’t get too bullied” in the derby arena.
And Happy Hoods continues to “sponsor” the Bardini Foundation, “an organization that helps out youth through outdoor activities,” said Coudek. From its Memorial Day Arts & Crafts Fair and Bridgeport Fourth of July sales proceeds, Coudek was able to make another recent $50 donation to Bardini Foundation.
For more information about Happy Hoods, call Coudek at (760) 447-0028.