CHICAGO — Six students in Chicago Public Schools' high schools last week were awarded more than $14,000 for their participation in a peer-to-peer learning program, sponsored by Walgreens, called the Expressions Challenge.
Student participants submitted art, video/photography or essay/poetry entries on educational disciplines, including art, English and health.
Out of nearly 600 entries, three $2,000 grand prize winners were awarded, along with $500 for their teachers and $500 for their school, and three $1,500 second place winners were recognized, along with $250 for their teachers.
The Walgreens Expressions Challenge is a student engagement initiative to help CPS high schools address sexual health issues through the power of creative expression. According to a 2011 report issued by the CPS Office of Special Education and Supports, Chicago ranks first and second for the highest rates nationwide of gonorrhea and chlamydia, respectively, for youth ages 15 to 19 years. This age group realized a 52% increase in the number of HIV diagnosis from 2000 to 2009.
"Our goal is to elevate the conversation," Walgreens director of community relations John Gremer said. "One of the biggest contributors to these teen health epidemics is communication. Studies continually show that teens have challenges discussing sexual health with parents, teachers and other adults. Through this initiative, we're giving them a safe and engaging place to talk about the challenges they face when making healthy sexual decisions."