The Horizon Foundation last night announced the winners of the 2013 Howard County Unsweetened “Your Voice, Your Choice” student film contest at a “red carpet” event featuring Grammy-nominated singer Mario Barrett and Emmy-award winning CNN anchor Suzanne Malveaux.
Taking the night’s grand prize honor and the $10,000 cash award were Josh Tope, Aren Hartoni and Aaron Newton from Atholton High School for their film “The Unsaturated Truth, Flavored Lies”, which artfully captures the disturbing impacts of excessive sugary drink consumption and the mixed messages sent to teens and youth about such beverages. The team also won the People’s Choice award by receiving the most votes on YouTube and during last night’s event.
The contest’s second place award winner was the film “The Hidden Dangers of Sugary Beverages” by Howard High School student Rachel Lin, who took home a $1,500 cash prize.
“The goal of the “Your Voice, Your Choice” documentary competition was for local students to share their unique perspective on the pervasiveness of unhealthy drinks in our community, reasons as to why sugary drinks are so common, and the impact of sugary drinks on health,” said Horizon President and CEO Nikki Highsmith Vernick. “Because of this contest, students used their voices to promote better choices, and I hope that their peers and their parents are listening.”
The contest was open to all Howard County students in grades 9—12, and 10 groups representing nearly 40 students entered. Submissions were judged by a diverse panel of public health and media experts. The People’s Choice voting took place on YouTube and before the awards presentation, and students were encouraged to generate interest and support for their submissions among their friends and families.
In addition to cash prizes and recognition, the winning team will have an opportunity to work alongside media professionals to turn their original concept into a social media campaign.
The Horizon Foundation launched Howard County Unsweetened last year to address growing rates of obesity among children and adults in the community by making it easier for everyone to make healthy beverage choices. A signature component of this effort is the Better Beverage Finder, a powerful online tool to search over 300 low sugar drink options — including those that are “Best for Kids” — and learn where in Howard County each drink can be found.