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Gonzaga joins campaign with film, photo event

One photo showed a swim instructor and his student. A short film featured footage of an elementary school, emphasizing the pint-sized furnishings. Several photos combined to make a collage of tender family moments with a recently adopted child.

Though presented in different ways, the themes behind the submissions to the photo and film competition at Gonzaga University were the same: Our kids are our business, and it’s our job to keep them safe.

“Now Gonzaga University has put themselves on the map as being active in this effort,” said Katie Herzog, program coordinator for GU’s comprehensive leadership program.

Students in a GU residence hall dedicated to leadership and community service organized the contest to get the campus involved in the communitywide Our Kids: Our Business campaign, a collaborative effort among children’s agencies, law enforcement, nonprofit social service groups and media professionals aimed at raising awareness of child welfare issues.

The contest asked students from local high schools and colleges to submit photos, collages or films depicting the intent of the campaign’s “Call to Action” – a pledge citizens can sign promising to make a difference in the life of a child.

“This contest could ignite a conversation across campus about child abuse,” said GU freshman Joe Anderson, 19, who helped organize the event.

The contest didn’t get many entries – about 10 students submitted work – but its goal of spreading awareness about the campaign seemed to work, Anderson said.

He and other students placed pinwheels – the campaign symbol – around campus this week. Already, students are asking what they mean, he said.

Signs on campus ask, “What’s up with the pinwheels?”

“Today people came up and asked me, ‘What’s this OK:OB thing?’ ” he said. “I’d like to think we made some sort of impact.”

GU student Caitlin Delegato’s film featured family photos and writings on what makes a family. Delegato said she and her siblings are adopted.

She wanted her film to show that “family isn’t about blood or who you’re related to. It’s about who cares about you,” she said.

Organizers hope to repeat the contest next year to involve the education community in the Our Kids: Our Business effort.

Herzog pointed to a description of the campaign and noted its exclusion of the education and higher education sectors.

“We really want to get the education side in,” she said.

“Hopefully we just started the conversation tonight,” Anderson said.


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