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Student's art will appear on billboards

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By Christopher Brooke, Reporter

A fifth grader from Laurel Elementary School created the art for an anti-tobacco campaign going up in areas of Southwest and Southside Virginia.
A project of the American Lung Association in Virginia, the Healthy Grounds for Our Youth effort seeks to keep the use of tobacco products off school campuses, even outdoors, according to Billie Murray, project manager.
“Tobacco-free school grounds are healthier for our youth and eliminate adults modeling this behavior in front of the youth,” according to a news release. “The poster contest is an opportunity to let our youth send the message for a tobacco-free lifestyle.”

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The organization sponsored a poster contest among students. Lora Ellen Robinson, a 2012-2013 fifth-grade student at Laurel, was named the winner.
“Watch while driving from Hillsville to Galax, as you will now see a billboard with Lora Ellen’s winning poster,” Murray said in a news release.
The poster will also go up on U.S. 58 at Stuart, on Route 11 in Wytheville and Route 220 at Ridgeway in Henry County, the project manager said.
“Lora Ellen's poster was amazing and we are so pleased to be able to share it on four regional billboards,” Murray said. “She’s a sweet little girl and she was so excited.”
“It made me feel excited and I can’t wait to see it on the billboard,” Lora Ellen told The Gazette.
In her poster, two figures appear to have leapt out of a plane — which must be an exhilarating feeling, the contest winner noted.
“I thought it was such a rush how you could go skydiving,” Lora Ellen noted. Likewise: “If your health was really good and you didn’t smoke, it would be a great feeling.”
Robinson takes art classes from Brigette O. Hadley at Blue Ridge Mountain Art in Woodlawn, near Front Porch Gallery.
Healthy Grounds for Our Youth got started in June 2012, when Virginia’s chapter of the American Lung Association received a $120,000 grant from the Centers for Disease Control.
The grant aims to help eight school systems become 100 percent tobacco-free. The funds have helped the schools provide signs and reminders for school grounds for sporting and other outdoor events.
Those receiving the grants include Carroll, Galax, Tazewell, Smyth, Wythe, Patrick, Henry and Martinsville.

Learn more about the anti-tobacco program at HealthyGroundsForOurYouth on Facebook or www.healthygrounds.org.