“It’s more than a bus ride, it’s a community,” reads Justin Seabaugh’s poster, which won first place in the inaugural Harmony in Transit poster contest during this year’s Columbia Values Diversity celebration.
The annual diversity celebration, which took place Jan. 13 at the Holiday Inn Expo Center, added the poster contest this year for Columbia middle school students.
Columbia Transit initiated the poster competition, said Phil Steinhaus, Office of Community Services manager.
Steinhaus said the diversity celebration, which began 12 years ago to honor the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., has always tried to involve all age groups. Youth are encouraged to write essays, write poetry and perform in a theatrical production. The poster contest is another way for children to get involved.
“I thought of the best way to demonstrate how different people ride the bus,” said Justin, a seventh-grader at Gentry Middle School.
Justin’s drawing includes a face divided into four parts: Indian, Chinese, black and white, with a bus underneath, signifying that people of diverse backgrounds use public transportation in unity.
The posters are on display in the bus depot and will appear in a few weeks in bus windows, said Lee Radtke, marketing specialist for Columbia Transit.
“We’ve had posters on the buses before,” she said. “We love having them. The passengers love having them.”
Arika Parr, a former employee of Columbia Transit, came up with the idea to partner with the Columbia Values Diversity celebration, Radtke said. The staff thought this would give the posters an important message. It also allowed youth to be involved in another aspect of the celebration.
Contestants this year were students in Virginia Propp’s class at Gentry. Danyang Liu and Caleb Neal, won second and third place, respectively.
Each winner received movie passes to Forum 8 and Hollywood 14 theaters. Justin said the real reward comes from knowing that his poster’s message will be seen by the community.
“Diversity is important because it makes our world a better place,” he said. “If everyone was the same, it would be really boring.”
For information about next year’s celebration, contact the Office of Community Services at 874-7488.