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CHICAGO — In January, Walgreens recognized students, teachers and their schools for their leadership in teen health advocacy and awareness. Students, teachers and schools were awarded more than $28,000 for their contributions to the Expressions Challenge, Walgreens stated.
More than 1,400 high school teens from Chicago and St. Louis joined the Expressions movement to use their artistic skills to address hard to discuss topics including teen dating violence, plastic surgery, STD prevention, and teen pregnancy. From those who participated, 15 were selected as outstanding peer-to-peer leaders for this crusade.
John Gremer, director of community affairs at Walgreens, sponsor of the Expressions Challenge, encouraged participants by saying “it’s okay to have your own voice and to express your individuality. When you speak, people will listen because they know your voice is different from everyone else and it matters.”
“Participating in the Expressions Challenge was an eye-opener to the stimulating abilities one positive message can send. I wrote this song [and created a video entitled 'You Are Beautiful'] for everyone who has ever felt insecure or doubtful about the person they are," commented Jasmine Davidson, media arts finalist for the Expressions Challenge and senior at Carnahan High School of the Future in St. Louis, Missouri. "I once thought I was not deserving of my aspirations, but I soon realized I am here for a greater purpose. Life is about following your dreams and accomplishing your goals, while inspiring others along the way. We cannot let someone's opinion shape our life choices. When someone hears my song, I want them to feel content with the person they have become, never conforming to absurd society standards."
Alexandria Abraham, senior at Thornton Fractional North High School in Calumet City, Ill., was selected as a peer-to-peer leader for her poem entitled “LEGS,” which shines light on a teenage girl who was “robbed” of her innocence and hope for true love when she was raped. Abraham believes “teenagers will listen to other teenagers more than they will adults. Expressions is a cool way to speak to teens about the importance of sexual responsibility [and date rape].” This program presents teens with the opportunity to learn from their peers through the expression of art, she concluded.
Chicago Winners: In this photo (From left To right): Kathyrn McNulty, Percy Julian High School teacher; Brittany Hammond, 2nd place Multimedia; Laura Larson, George Westinghouse College Prep High School teacher; Nelson Aviles, 1st place Visual Arts; Jemima Adeyinka, 1st place Creative Writing; Vincent Hathhorn, South Shore International College Prep teacher; Alexandria Abraham, 2nd place Creative Writing; Michelle Potter, Thornton Fractional North High School teacher; Jessica Trieu, 1st place Multimedia; John Gremer, Walgreens director of community affairs; Theodora Borland, 2nd place Visual Arts; and Carolyn Bielski, Lake Forest High School teacher
St. Louis Winners: (From left to right): Marlene Davis, Alderwoman 19th Ward; Craig Schmid, Alderman 20th Ward; Jasmine Davidson, 1st place Media Arts; Kara Bachman, Walgreens store manager; Chellsy Carter, 2nd place Creative Writing; Scott Hoselton, Walgreens community leader; Koran Bolden, founder of Street Dreamz; Dyamond Robinson, 1st place Creative Writing; Marian Philips-Gant, St. Louis County Health Department community health educator; Marina Claunch, 2nd place Visual Arts; Shaun Thomason, Walgreens store manager; Dabreonna Douglas, 2nd place Media Arts; Felicia Mason, Walgreens store manager; and Jason Vongnaraj, 1st place Visual Arts