The Compassionates

The Chittenango Lions sponsor a local Peace Poster contest every year. I assign the illustration project to my 8th grade Studio in Art students. There is a theme and a few rules such as no words or characters of any kind, no numbers, no trademarked cartoons, etc.

The theme this year is “Lead by Compassion”. So the $5,000 question (which is the prize at the international level) is “How do you get thirteen -year-olds to formulate ideas based on compassion?”

I asked some colleagues to define compassion in their own words and they all had varied responses, which I thought was interesting. Some questioned whether they were compassionate enough, some justified strict rules as a form of compassion.

My thought is that you cannot help others without first helping yourself. Meaning you must be kinder to yourself, believe in yourself, love yourself first before you can help others grow. You cannot lead from a place of lack or unworthiness in yourself.

I shared this belief system and suggested they continue the journey of self discovery that began with the summer vacation drawing they did on the first day of school. Show me who you are and what you love then show how these things both matter and can help others live peaceful and successfully happy lives.

Here are the results. They are colored pencil drawings on white tagboard. The winning poster goes on to the the regional competition followed by states and the possibility of winning the grand prize at the international meeting.

It’s so exciting to give students the opportunity to become professional artists.

The posters are framed and are currently on display at the Sullivan Library on Falls Blvd. in downtown Chittenango, New York. They will be up in the Community Room through December 2022.

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