Harness the power of the arts

We built almost all of our social marketing campaign events around various art forms—from music to poetry to visual arts. Incorporating art into a serious topic can make it more fun, creative and accessible. For example, we held a poetry contest in our first year that elicited thousands of submissions from students. We published the top 100 poems from that selection in a book and hosted a poetry reading event called The Power of Words.

We also used those poems as inspiration for a ChalkHeart contest that we held at the Boise Art Museum. Over 400 teens and parents came and watched as teams of middle school and high school teens drew chalk art in real-time inspired by their fellow students’ poems.  It was even featured in the New York Times!

We also learned that arts events are a great way to bring community businesses and organizations together. Food vendors, radio stations, museums, cafes—lots of places were able to contribute something and rally the community in support of this issue. Arts events also tended to draw big crowds—and in turn media attention—which helped further increase support for our program and this issue.