The commission created the contest to inspire children's creativity during the coronavirus pandemic.

COURTESY PHOTO - In lieu of regular summer events, the commission is holding its first annual summer youth art contest to inspire children while they continue to social distance.

While children are stuck inside their homes due to the coronavirus pandemic, the St. Helens Arts and Cultural Commission is bringing the creativity to them.

In lieu of its regular summer events, the commission is holding its first annual summer youth art contest to inspire children while they continue to social distance. The contest includes three age categories that range from birth to 18 years old.

To increase their motivation, the commission is also including a cash prize in each of the categories.

"Having forced to be isolated, that can be really hard on somebody who's younger," said St. Helens Arts and Cultural Commission Vice Chair Kimberly O'Hanlon. "It can have a lot of negative effects."

As a child, O'Hanlon remembers using art as an outlet that helped her throughout her childhood. She hopes the contest can inspire kids who are cooped up at home with less to do than normal.

"The youth at home may not be able to see their friends or they have activities that are canceled, or they can't go to school," she added. "This is a better outlet for them to express themselves creatively."

For ages 0 to 5, children can use their imagination for a creative coloring contest. For kids who use their crayons just right, the commission will award the winner with a $50 prize.

Kids ages 6 to 13 can also participate by creating a piece of artwork that shows their favorite local activity; for example, playing at a park or going to the theater, said O'Hanlon. The winner will receive $100 for their piece.

As for teenagers ages 14 to 18, they can create a piece of artwork that represents community, such as how city departments take care of parks or recreation centers. The grand prize in this category is $150.

O'Hanlon, who created the contest, said it was important to include all age groups in the event.

"As a mom myself, I have two kids that are 3 and 5, so I wanted something for people who are similar who have young children and do something for them to be involved with," she explained. "Even at that age, they get motivated."

When complete, parents or artists can email a photo of the artwork along with a photo of the artist posing with the artwork to Dawn Richardson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. The Arts and Cultural Commission asks for participants to include their full name, age and the best way to contact them.

Participants have until Friday, July 24, to submit their piece. The commission will then select and announce winners after their meeting on Tuesday, July 28.

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