Four Winners Selected in COVID-19 Messaging Contest

Four Winners Selected in COVID-19 Messaging Contest

Pontiac, MI – Four Oakland County residents who took different paths to deliver the same message – everyone should do their part to help stop the spread of the coronavirus – were chosen by a public vote as winners of the Oakland Together COVID-19 Safety Video & Art Contest.

Oakland County Executive David Coulter announced the winners today, celebrating the creativity of the winners while reminding residents that the steps each of us takes makes a difference in stopping the spread of the virus.

“Oakland County is so fortunate to have such wonderfully talented artists and story tellers in our midst,” Coulter said. “Their collective message is simple and to the point. We have an obligation to our families, those we care about, our coworkers, classmates and friends, and even those we don’t know to wear a facial covering to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.”

The contest was open to county residents in two categories: youth ages 10-17 and those 18 and above. The theme was the continuing importance of practicing COVID-19 safety protocols such as wearing face coverings, practicing social distancing and washing your hands frequently. Entrants could submit a video or visual art.

Nearly 4,900 people cast votes in the online contest. The winners are:

Youth visual art: Steven Lowenberg, 13, of Southfield. His entry was a color pencil and crayon drawing entitled “Stop the Spread” and encourages everyone to wash their hands, practice social distancing and wear a mask. “This is an illustration encouraging everyone to practice proper hygiene, social distancing, and to wear face masks to keep all of us safe and healthy,” Lowenberg said.

Adult visual art: Sydni Gothard, of Waterford. Her acrylic on canvas entry is entitled “Together,” with characters each wearing masks and the unifying message that we are all in this together. “I want my painting to encourage others to wear a mask for their safety and the safety of others,” Gothard wrote of her entry. “While each of the characters are spaced apart in their own color dividers, they can still show support and feel comfort in the fact that they are all in this together.”

Youth video: Charlisa Penzak, 12, of Bloomfield Hills. Her video, “We are all in this Together,” features a multi-generational cast of ethnically diverse people relating how their lives have been affected, what they miss and what steps they should each take to stop the spread of the virus. “I incorporated the theme of diversity to show that no matter your race, religion, nationality, or sex, everyone needs to play their part, and everyone needs to help,” she wrote of her entry. “These times have been tough for everyone. People might think that they cannot do much, but by wearing masks and social distancing, they can play their part in stopping the coronavirus.”

Adult video: Eli Sider of Huntington Woods, a freelance videographer and film major at the University of Michigan. His video, “It Didn’t Have to Be This Way,” chronicles the rapid spread of the virus in a community beginning with an innocent contact between friends. According to his entry, “Eli Sider was motivated to make this video after seeing people in the U.S. who refuse to wear masks because they don’t believe in them. He wanted to share the message that the masks don’t protect you, they protect your loved ones, the ones most vulnerable. As a college senior about to return to University of Michigan for another year surrounded by thousands of people, he hopes his message will urge those in his community to take the necessary steps to protect one another.”

The contest was open to original artwork submitted by the original creator, including but not limited to video, painting, drawing, photography, illustration and printmaking. Artwork was to promote and encourage COVID safety, following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state of Michigan protocols.

The winners receive $350. Winning entries will be displayed virtually on the county’s website,, social media channels and through Sept. 30. The images and videos can be viewed by clicking on the following link:

They will also be considered for use in upcoming public service announcements. The artists will be given credit if their creations are used.

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