PADUCAH, KY (KFVS) - On Tuesday, April 22, the Kentucky State Police honored the winning student artist for the National 'Missing Children's Day' poster contest, co-sponsored by the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C.
The contest is an annual event that encourages fifth grade students from across the country to design posters depicting the importance of bringing missing children home.
Eleven-year-old Bailey Bowland of Concord Elementary School in Paducah, Ky. won the state poster competition. Her poster was selected as the Kentucky entry that will be forwarded to the DOJ in Washington, D.C. to compete against the other state selected entries. The national winner will earn a free trip to Washington, D.C to participate in the national 'Missing Children's Day' ceremony and receive a U.S. Savings Bond.
Bowland's poster used the 'forget-me-not' flower to represent that we must never forget about children who are abducted and still missing.
"I chose this flower because missing children should not be forgotten," Bowland said. "The flowers without faces represent the children who are still missing."
Bowland received a Certificate of Excellence from KSP and her poster will be prominently displayed at the Kentucky State Fair this summer in KSP's Safety Town Exhibit.
Sgt. Dean Patterson presented Bowland with her award.
"This is a great opportunity for our agency to participate in a national effort to bring missing children home safely, while highlighting the importance of proactive educational programs," Patterson said. "Students from across the state submitted entries and we had a difficult time choosing the winning entry – they were all so good."
"The effectiveness of the program is based on the concept that a message conveyed by a fellow student carries more weight with other students and is therefore more memorable," Patterson added.
The theme for the contest was 'Bring Our Missing Children Home' and Patterson advised that many schools incorporate this campaign as part of a lesson plan in the classroom.
"The poster contest provides teachers the tools to educate children about safety and initiate conversations regarding prevention, while compelling students to explore the significance of the theme "Bring our Missing Children Home," Patterson said.
Ginger Hollowell is the principle at Concord Elementary and was excited to hear one of her students won the contest.
"Bailey Bowland is an outstanding, award-winning student," Hollowell said. "She is a beautiful young lady on the inside and out."
Last year in Kentucky 1,574 minor children were reported missing. Nationally, 800,000 children are reported missing every year.
Patterson hopes that this contest will remind parents to talk with their children about safety awareness and remind youth of simple basic rules:
- Never go out alone.
- Always tell an adult where you’re going.
- Say NO if you feel threatened physically or sexually and tell a trusted adult.
- Don’t let peer pressure lure you into drugs or alcohol. Have the confidence to say NO to substances that could harm your body and cloud your judgment.
The winning poster for the nationwide contest will be announced in May by the DOJ.
More safety information is available online from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at http://www.missingkids.com or by contacting KSP at 502-782-1800.