An interview with Cathy DeLuca of Street Smarts

Success Story: Street Smarts Storybook Poster Contest

An interview with Cathy DeLuca of Street Smarts
Tell us about the Street Smarts Storybook Poster Contest and its audience.

Every January, for the entire month, Street Smarts San Ramon Valley holds a contest in our 21 elementary schools. A local author writes a storybook based on a fun and engaging traffic safety theme. This year’s theme was based on postcards sent from a vacation and the book was focused on helmet safety. We distributed the ten page story to our local elementary schools in fall with just text and blank drawing paper. Students picked up to three pages to illustrate, and then submitted their artwork at their school. This year, we received 550 entries. Eleven finalists’ illustrations were chosen with one illustration on the cover page and ten on the story pages.

In March we hosted an awards ceremony for all kids who entered the contest. All posters were hung up and every student got a certificate. We also hosted an award ceremony for finalists. 7,000 copies of the book were printed to give at community events and schools for free, and there is no shortage of demand.

What was the inspiration for this program?

We started a poster contest in 2004. Kids drew traffic safety posters that were then hung up. However, this did not achieve the reach that we wanted. We wanted a poster contest that would live beyond the contest.

Did you face any challenges in implementing this program and how did you overcome them?

This program reaches out to 21 elementary schools, which can be a challenge. We need a combination of the right teachers, librarians, art teachers, and parents to really promote the program. In schools with less participation we work to contact all PTA members and principals directly to get them on board. We especially try to contact new principals to get them engaged early.

For others interested in implementing a similar program, what advice would you give them?

This program is unique in that our partners are the school district, the county, and the city. This is a District sanctioned and sponsored program. School district buy-in is crucial for access to get participation. Also, make sure to work with school art teachers!