HELENA - State leaders and student participants gathered in the State Capital Rotunda to attend Montana Meth Project's "Paint the State 2023" competition.
"We must educate young Montanans on the consequences of drug use, and just the awful effects it has," said Governor Greg Gianforte.
Paint the State is a statewide public art contest that engages Montana teens and adults in on-the-ground drug prevention.
The contest invites Montana residents, 13 years of age and older, to create original public works of art that inspire Montanans to live drug-free lives while incorporating the meth project's "Not Even Once" message.
Amy Rue, the Executive Director of the Montana Meth Project, says is a great way for teens to be more educated about the dangers of Meth.
"Paint the state is one of the most engaging and graphic ways that teens can internalize the Montana Meth 'Not even once' message. They've seen our advertising campaigns for 17 years and all of the graphic depictions about what meth can do to your body, to your friends, to your community," said Rue.
Since the Montana Meth Project's founding, they've seen a 77% reduction in first-time teen meth use, and they also state, that it's the lowest Native American teen meth use ever reported.
"You know, when the meth project was first launched, we were fifth in the country for abuse, for methamphetamine among teens. And within two years of deploying this model, of showing kids the risks that are associated with methamphetamine, we immediately dropped to 39th in the country," said Rue.
Meth is stated to be Montana law enforcement's number-one problem with a 1300% increase in meth in Montana since 2020. That's why people like Attorney General Austin Knudsen say programs like Paint the State is important for young teens.
"Kids are different. So any avenue we can take to reach them, to have them use their own creativity and channel that into something positive like this, we're we're telling people to stay away from from from dangerous drugs, I think is just it's such a win," said Knudsen.
June 30, 2023, is the deadline for art installations and online photo submissions.
Here's the full Paint the State schedule as well as a link to their website here:
- Registration period: January 2023-May 2023
- Art installations and online photo submissions deadline: June 30th, 2023
- Celebrity judging and popular voting: July 2023
- Award announcements of regional and state-wide winners: August 2023