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2012 Poster and Video Contests:SWAW 2012 Poster and Video Contests
Florida’s Severe Weather Awareness Campaign
Encourages Students to Get Creative

Living in the Sunshine State offers a wide variety of enjoyable pastimes such as walking along sandy white beaches, hiking through densely-treed state parks, or riding roller coasters in amusements parks. But it also means dealing with potential disasters such as hurricanes and wildfires. Because of these threats, the Florida Division of Emergency Management conducts campaigns year round to promote preparedness for potential natural hazards through efforts such as Severe Weather Awareness Week (SWAW), which the Division sponsors in partnership with the American Red Cross.

One event of this year’s SWAW campaign is the poster and video contests, which challenges students to design an 11 x 14 poster or a 30-second Public Service Announcement video to help increase statewide awareness of the importance of disaster preparedness. Whether students attend public schools, private schools or are home-schooled, all are encouraged to enter.

“As a parent, I am fully aware of how important it is to include children in on disaster planning,” said Director Bryan W. Koon. “By offering events such as the poster and video contests, we help Florida’s children better understand disasters, as well as how to prepare for them.”

This year’s poster contest, which is geared towards 4th and 5th graders, will use severe weather preparedness as the subject. The winning poster will be professionally printed and displayed in the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) for the entire year. The video contest, for middle and high school students, will focus on boating safety, rip currents and temperature extremes. Winning videos will be professionally reproduced for the Division’s awareness promotion in the statewide public awareness campaign. A video production team will come to the winners’ hometown to professionally produce the winning PSA, and the winners will be the project director for their respective spots. Students are urged to conduct research for pertinent information regarding these topics. The deadline for the 2012 poster and video contests is January 9, 2012. Winners will be announced January 29 at a kick-off event for Severe Weather Awareness Week in Central Florida.

More than 800 students throughout the state entered the 2011 competition, making it the biggest year in the annual event’s history. “We hope to further increase the number of students who participate in the 2012 contest,” said Karen Hagan, Florida Disaster Officer for the American Red Cross. “With greater involvement in initiatives such as this campaign, the more widespread our outreach efforts will be to get Floridians prepared for potential disasters.”

Last year’s poster contest was won by Miranda Shellenbarger, a 5th grader at East Side Elementary School in Brooksville. Her winning poster is currently displayed in the main lobby of the SEOC and is posted on the Division’s Kids Get A Plan website. Posters for the second and third place winners are also posted.

“A 2001 study of resilience in children by Edith Grotberg indicates that awareness and engagement in problem-solving are effective means of developing resilience in children,” said Gwen Keenan, the Division’s Preparedness Bureau Chief and mother of four. “Our goal in this campaign is to encourage students and their families to be alert and better prepared for Florida’s potential disasters through a fun and creative method that encourages children to learn without alarming them.”

For more information on the Severe Weather Awareness Week campaign, the contests, and the Division of Emergency Management, visit You can also follow us on Twitter at and on Facebook, at


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