A Pickerington teen recently intertwined her love of the arts with her dream of world harmony and, in doing so, won a state competition hosted by Lions Club International.
Following first-place finishes in the Lions Club's local and district "Peace Poster" competitions, Stephanie Fox, a 14-year-old eighth-grader at Pickerington Ridgeview Junior High School, in December won Ohio's statewide contest.
Those feats qualified her for the Lions' international competition.
Although her poster was not among the top 23 selected to be showcased at the Lions Club's International Convention in Hamburg, Germany, next July, it was one of 117 posters chosen for the international competition out of more than 400,000 submitted worldwide.
"I feel really good about it," said Fox, daughter of Lilane and Brian Fox. "I think it's awesome."
The theme of this year's competition was "Imagine Peace," and that's exactly what Fox did when she sat down to create her poster.
Its images include a dove, a windmill with fan blades making a "peace" sign and hands joined in racial harmony.
It also evokes biblical representations of peace through images of a lion and lamb, as well as a "City of Flags," to symbolize nations coming together without conflict.
"It's a little boy and he's dreaming," Fox said.
"All the nations are at war, and for a second he's thinking about what the world would be like if there was no war.
"I was just trying to make a poster about peace."
Although Fox acknowledged she was nudged to enter the Peace Poster contest by her father, who also is president of the Pickerington Lions Club, she said it was something she's been interested in for years after being exposed to the competition at a young age.
"When I was little my dad would talk about the Peace Poster and I would usually go to the state convention and I got to see all these great artists," Fox said.
"I said, 'Gosh, I want to do that.' "
Brian Fox was reluctant to speak about his daughter's poster after her local and district victories for fear of raising concerns about preferential treatment from judges.
However, judging at the local level was conducted by two Canal Winchester artists, Carolyn Sittler and Linda Sabo, and district judges also were from outside Pickerington.
Last week, Fox said he was happy his daughter's hard work and creativity were recognized.
"The poster she made was very colorful and had a lot of symbolism to it," he said.
"It's hard to believe that in a worldwide competition she made it that far, but she made it and we're very proud of her.
"She has always, even from when she was a little kid, been interested in drawing and has had a knack for it," Fox said. "I'm not sure where she gets it."
Some 31 students participated in the local Peace Poster contest.
Ridgeview students Jayson Dzurilla and Keely Stagg placed second and third, respectively, at that level.
After holding it sporadically over the past 25 years, this year marked the second consecutive year the Pickerington Lions Club organized the local competition.
Brian Fox said the past two years the competition was held among Ridgeview students due to collaboration with Cheryl Knox, an art teacher at the school.
He said the club hopes to get more local students involved in coming years.
"We're trying to get with the art teachers to see if they're interested," he said.
"Mrs. Knox has been tremendously helpful in that regard.
"We want to engage the youth in thinking about issues of peace and certainly we want to foster their creativity."
Stephanie worked on her poster for three days before entering it in the local contest.
She said artistic outlets, including acting, drawing and singing, are some of her favorite pastimes, but added the message of the Peace Poster is something she was glad to champion as she advanced in the competition.
"I hoped it would go on (to the international level) so people could see my poster and say, 'Maybe we should have that. Maybe we should have peace,' " she said. "That would be nice.
"I feel the message in the poster was a good one, and I was happy people got to see it."