Shaulene Burkett, advertising manager for The News, is excited to roll out the new Design An Ad program in the community, thrilled with the engagement of students and businesses alike. (Heather Colpitts/Black Press Media)

Community project gives kids creative outlet

New program fosters artistic talents among young children

“It was very fun. One of the best things I’ve done this year!” said a Grade 4 Maple Ridge student taking part in the new Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News Design An Ad program.

Another child described the experience as “really fun because I got to colour and draw, and those are my favourite things.”

Meanwhile another student said, “I love to draw so I loved this.”

Dozens of Grade 4 and 5 students from local schools, including many from Blue Mountain Elementary, took part in the 2021 Design An Ad program, a new initiative that sees kids create advertisements for local companies.


Students have fun while also learning from the experience, explained Blue Mountain teacher Kristen Haggard.

“The students were very engaged in the activity and excited to create an advertisement for their community.” she said.

“They enjoyed the entire process; from learning about the company they were creating the ad for to thinking of an original idea for the design.”

Many of her students had so much fun creating their first advertisement, that they also chose to make a second.

“It was great to hear all of the compliments they gave one another and the ideas they shared while they were working on their designs,” Haggard added.

Their teacher was similarly impressed with the high degree of creative and artistic talents demonstrated by the kids, and their understanding of how these skills can be applied in the “real world.”

“I liked how you could chose a comic or a picture to create your advertisement,” one of Haggard’s students related after the project.

“I really liked it because you get to draw your own advertisement,” another shared.

While appreciated by participating teachers and students alike, this new program is also proving popular with the business community.

Sarah Hamel, marketing manager for Maple Ridge Chrysler, said the whole team is excited to have each and every one of its ads displayed in the dealership’s showroom.

But, Hamel admitted picking only one to use as their ad in today’s section was difficult.

“It was very hard to pick one picture, as they all were very creative and unique and represented our brand perfectly!”

Initially, Haney Animal Hospital owner Dr. Bhupinder Johar wondered how, and if, children could effectively create an advertisement representing his Maple Ridge-based veterinary clinic.

But once the ads were submitted for his review and selection, he admitted being a little shocked, but moreover grateful that he was invited to participate.

“I was surprised to see how imaginative and creative the kids could be,” the veterinarian shared. “I was amazed to see the minute details the kids had depicted in their drawings.”

Count him in for future initiatives involving local children and their creative insights, Johar confirmed. “I would love to support, contribute, and be a part of any [such] future projects.”

Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Community Services loved the idea of having children involved with creating a marketing piece for their local non-profit, said Shelley Grogan, the director of fund development.

“As an organization that works with all ages, we strive to educate and ensure the voices of everyone in our community are heard,” Grogan said.

Some of the ad designs presented to community services clearly demonstrated understanding and buy-in on the part of the young children.

“This campaign empowers children to not only express their creativity, but to also understand more about products and services available to them in their community,” she said.

It was obvious from their artistic depictions that the kids understood how the local organization works, and that it is there for the community when they need support.

As an advertiser, trying to share that information with the entire community, Grogan said she couldn’t have asked for a more powerful form of messaging.

Ahead of the inaugural section being published, Haggard said there was an obvious sense of excitement among her kids. They’re anxious, she said, “to see some of their work published for the entire community to see.”


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