Arts & Entertainment

'Don't Hurt Your Hippo' Contest Call for Entries by the Sussex County Coalition for Healthy and Safe Communities

Annmarie Shafer and Gemma Chalkley show some "Above the Influence" entries.  (Winners have not been announced yet) Credits: Jennifer Murphy
Local Teens in last year's "Celebrate without Alcohol" flyer Credits: Jennifer Murphy
"Above the Influence" entry submitted by Danielle Romaine Credits: Jennifer Murphy
"Above the Influence" entry submitted by Amanda Corujo, Hopatcong Credits: Jennifer Murphy
"Above the Influence" entry submitted by Brittany Erika Schroeder, Newton Credits: Jennifer Murphy

 NEWTON, NJ – The Sussex County Coalition for Healthy and Safe Communities, a program of the Center for Prevention and Counseling, has announced a poster and written entry contest for grades 4 - 12 highlighting the message, “Don’t hurt your hippo…Keep your mind free of alcohol, it’ll think better.”

Becky Carlson, Coordinator of the Coalition, said, “The hippocampus is a part of the brain that helps with learning and memory development. When alcohol is introduced into the brain of an adolescent, it affects the development of the hippocampus. The longer teens drink, the smaller the hippocampus.”

“We want kids to use their creativity to come up with a way to spread this message,” Carlson continued.

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Contest Guidelines are as follows:  all written entries must be 100 words or less. Poster entries must be original artwork, with no reference to copyrighted characters, images or celebrities. Poster entries must be submitted on 8 ½” x 11” white paper. A completed entry form must accompany all entries. Groups are allowed to work together, but each individual must complete an entry form.

Deadline for entries to be received is March 22, by 5 p.m. Call Ayla at 973-383-4787 with any questions.

Eight poster entries will be featured in the New Jersey Herald and three writers will record their entry, which will be featured on WSUS 102.3 FM radio.

According to Carlson, the participation has outgrown the Freeholder’s meeting room, so winners will be announced at a Newton Town Hall meeting on April 24. New Jersey Senator Steve Oroho and Newton Chief of Police Michael Richards will award certificates to the eleven winners. There will also be speakers and a youth group who will make a presentation about underage drinking.

This contest is only one of many events scheduled to take place this spring.   

Carlson said, “We want to raise awareness of the importance of celebrating without alcohol.”  

As she presented a flyer, she said, “These are all local teens, who got together for this photo to spread this message. "We are looking for teens who want to participate in this year's photo. We want every High School to be represented."  On the back of the sheet, there is a message to parents with the phrase ‘Parents Who Host Lose the Most.’ It is signed by the Police Chief of every municipality in Sussex County. We want parents to understand that it is the law.”  

There will be a “Parents Who Host, Lose the Most” event at Sparta High School on March 26 at 7 p.m.  “We try to engage the entire community. There will be kids presenting, as well as a lawyer, insurance agent, and a police officer,” said Carlson. While each presenter will have a slightly different angle to discuss, a clear message will be sent that it is the law, and there are many repercussions to breaking that law.

On April 17 in Hopatcong, winners from the “Above the Influence” art contest will be named. Those entries were due by Feb. 1. 

Vernon began a coalition two years ago, in response to a heightened heroin use. The coalition helped the community realize that kids don’t usually start with heroin. Annmarie Shafer, coordinator of the Vernon Coalition said, “There is a tremendous response from the community. We’ve got parents, doctors, and business people all involved.” 

The group meets monthly, on the third Wednesday at 3:15 p.m., at the Glen Meadow Middle School. 

Anyone interested in learning more about the research behind underage drinking can obtain a booklet from the Center for Prevention and Counseling entitled “The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Prevent and Reduce Underage Drinking” published in 2007. It contains statistics regarding the scope of the problem in America, how alcohol affects Adolescent Development, and how to take action. The following links also contain much useful information:;; and



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