The Lions Step In
The Peace Poster Contest began simply enough: What would happen if children throughout the world used the universal language of art to express what peace means to them? From this question sprang an annual tradition in which children put pen, crayon, charcoal or paintbrush to paper and unleash their powerful talents. Each year, Lions clubs around the world invite children ages 11, 12 and 13 to artistically express what peace means to them through the Peace Poster Contest.
“Our main goal as Lions is to get the kids involved in the community through the Peace Poster Contest,” said Kerry Fletcher of the Zionsville Lions Club in Indiana. “Their voices are important.”
Children compete locally against their peers by creating a work around a theme such as “Vision of Peace” or “Peace Begins with Me.” Clubs and multiple districts pick regional winners, which are sent to Lions Clubs International and shown to a jury of distinguished artists. From these posters, 23 merit award winners and one grand prize award winner is chosen. Each merit award winner receives US$500 and the grand prize winner receives US$5,000, plus a trip to Lions Day at the United Nations.
“The work is really high quality. It’s amazing that the children are so young and their original approaches to the idea about power and peace,” said contest judge Tricia Van Eck of the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art.
Hard Work Pays Off
The Peace Poster Contest brings Lions closer to their community and provides a platform for reaching out to youth and letting them know what Lions do in their community. “Our club believes that we need to have peace all around us. And by taking it through to the schools — we can encourage them,” said Leona McPherson of the Newlands Lions Club in the Republic of South Africa.
Furthermore, the contest encourages children to imagine a future full of hope and devoid of violence. “I’d like to see a better world where my parents, my friends, my family can live in peace,” said 12-year-old Nataly Aquite of Colombia.
The contest is in its 23rd year. Clubs representing more than 65 countries participate each year. More than 350,000 children participate in the contest annually. Past grand prize winners have hailed from Brazil, Guadeloupe, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Malaysia, Martinique, Peru, Philippines, South Africa, Thailand, Turkey and the United States. Each poster is judged on originality, artistic merit and expression of the theme.