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Local art contest to benefit the Hernando Substance Exposed Newborn (SEN) Task Force

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Art is known for its singular ability to dazzle and inspire. Yet, can any form of the creative arts hold the power to inform—or even to heal? The Hernando Substance Exposed Newborn (SEN) Task Force aims to answer this question by inviting artists in Hernando County to create a wall art piece that will relay and communicate a positive message on the subject of substance-exposed newborns. “All submissions will be judged as part of the SEN art contest, which is free to enter and open to everyone.”

The Executive Director of the Hernando Community Coalition, Tresa Watson, stated, “This is our first art contest. We’ve always conveyed our message through words. We decided it was time to reach the public through visuals.”
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And what is the message? “We want to relay images that will encourage and promote the image of a healthy family,” said Watson.

Artworks will be judged at SEN’s Third Annual Education & Beyond: Supporting Substance Exposed Newborn Communities Conference on October 6 at the Wellcome Om Center, 4242 Lake in the Woods Drive, Spring Hill. This Hernando SEN Taskforce workshop, scheduled from 8:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m., is aimed toward helping all of those medical, healthcare, and hospital professionals, social and behavioral health workers, nonprofits, treatment providers, law enforcement officers, legal professionals, prevention coalitions and experts, early learning coalitions, state agencies, and all others involved in caring for opioid-addicted pregnant patients and their newborns and young children.

The top five winners of this competition will receive a $100 cash prize as well as the addition of a gold plaque to their wall art, with their names identifying the art. In addition, winners will see their artwork duplicated into framed pictures that can be distributed throughout county doctor offices, agencies, etc. for the purposes of wall hanging.

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“These posters will appear in labor and delivery rooms at Oak Hill Hospital, Bravera Health, and in doctors’ offices,” said Watson. “These will be among the informational resources that we use to educate people about substance-exposed newborns.”

Artists may choose from an array of media in creating their masterworks, including charcoal, pastels, acrylic, oil, crayon, watercolor, pen and ink, photography, and graphics. Submitted artworks may be sized between 12” x 15” and 18” x 24.”

All submissions must be made without matting, with no names listed on the front of the art. Artists are encouraged to write their name, email, and telephone number on the back of the artwork. Artists may drop off their submissions at Hernando Community Coalition, 13001 Spring Hill Drive, Spring Hill, FL 34609, or BayCare Behavioral Health, 5425 Commercial Way, Spring Hill, FL 34607. The contest deadline is September 25, 2023.

“Our competition is open to artists of all ages, who can be free to combine words and images in their work,” said Watson, noting that several school and student groups are preparing entries for the competition. “We are open to all ideas and can’t wait to see what artists bring us. This art is sure to be wonderful.”

Visit https://hernandosen.org/ for more information or contact Tresa Watson by phone at 352-596-8000 or email at [email protected]

Megan Hussey
Megan Hussey
Megan Hussey is a features journalist and author who is the winner of Florida Press Association honors and a certificate of appreciation from LINCS (Family Support Domestic and Sexual Violence Prevention Task Force) and Sunrise Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Center for her newspaper coverage of these issues. She graduated cum laude from Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., with a journalism major and English/sociology minor, and previously wrote for publications that include the Pasco editions of The Tampa Tribune and Tampa Bay Times. A native of Indiana, she lives in Florida.
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