WASILLA — Thrive Mat-Su recently announced the winners of their recent Thrive Creatives photo contest, highlighting local students’ creativity talents while promoting the group’s overall mission to support local youth with a series of activities and programs that encourage healthy and socially connected lifestyles.

“The photo contest went really well,” Thrive Mat-Su Youth Program Coordinator Matt Clayton said.

United Way of Mat-Su oversees Thrive Mat-Su, a community-led coalition made up of locals from all walks of life with the core mission to support local youth and prevent substance misuse through a range of programs, fundraisers and public projects.

Clayton said they established Thrive Creatives to encourage local students to showcase their skills as one of several means of encouraging them to live above the influence of drugs and alcohol.

Thrive posted the top three winning photos on their Facebook page. The top three finalists received gift cards for their efforts.

Thrive is now holding a graphic design contest. Clayton noted that it’s been harder to find participants for the graphic design contest than the photo contest. He said they had 50 students apply to the last contest and there’s 14 signed up for the current one.

According to Clayton, students can enter one of two ways into the graphic design contest. He said they’re looking to redesign their logo, and the first option would be judging submissions for a new logo. The second option would be design encouraging media centering around Thrive’s Messages of Hope campaign.

“Overall, Thrive is an upstream prevention strategy. So, we try to prevent substance abuse by directing everybody’s attention to the positive things that they need to have in their lives. What we’re trying to do with Creatives is just highlighting the talent these kids have… and help them feel supported for the art they’re going after,” Clayton said. “They seem to be really responsive to having an outlet to be able to share their art, and maybe win some small prizes to support their art.”

Clayton said this is a long term program that they intend to operate for many years with many different mediums, so he encourages local students to keep applying to their contests even if they don’t win at first. He said the process will refine their skills, and has the ability to inspire confidence in their craft.

“It’s still going to make an impact, whether they win a prize or not. They still have an opportunity to make an impact with their effort. By participating, they’re given experience that gives them an edge on potentially doing better the next time,” Clayton said.

The age range for the graphic design contest is from ages 12 to 20 among local students. The deadline is at the end of March. Clayton noted that they may extend the deadline should the need arise.

To incentivize participation, students who submit their graphic designs will receive their choice of a $10 gift card to Fred Meyer or Target for each approved submission through February and March.

The first place winner will receive a $300 Visa gift card, second receives a $200 Visa gift card, and third will receive a $100 Visa gift card.

To sign up for the contest, text “Thrive” to 907-745-5826 and answer the automated questions, and mention the graphic design contest in section 4.

For more information, visit the Thrive Mat-Su Facebook page or email connect@thrivemat-su.org.

Contact Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman reporter Jacob Mann at jacob.mann@frontiersman.com

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