Emily Orander of Wake Forest knows firsthand that art can bring inner peace. Now she’s turned her talent toward promoting peace outwardly – way outwardly.
The poster she created for Lions International’s Peace Poster Contest was chosen from a field of 350,000 entries as one of 23 merit award winners. In addition to a $500 prize and a certificate of achievement from local contest sponsor the North Raleigh Lions Club, the honor means her artwork will be shown at the Lions Club international convention in Busan, South Korea, and then become part of an exhibit that will go on the road.
When she found out her poster was picked for a merit award, “I was extremely excited,” said Emily, 14. “I didn’t think I’d make it this far. I found out one day at school, and I wanted to scream in the hallway, but I couldn’t.”
Her poster, which she created with colored pencils, shows a child’s hands holding the earth, while an adult’s hand opens it like a box to release a dove draped with a string of world flags.
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“I wanted to get across the idea of a parent or an adult showing the child peace,” she said.
But the concept works both ways. The theme of this year’s poster contest was “Children Know Peace,” an idea that Emily readily believes in.
“I think kids know peace because kids … they naturally accept people for who they are,” she said.
Art has been something Emily has known as long as she can remember. She’s been drawing since she was “really little,” she said, and she had a great-grandmother who was an artist, too.
“I guess it kind of got passed down to me,” she said.
Emily’s love for art has helped her through some tough times in her life.
In 2010, she endured brain surgery and six weeks of radiation to treat a cancerous tumor on the stalk of her pituitary gland. Last year, she had surgery again to close a hole in her heart.
Despite missing dozens of school days, she’s stayed on track in school, even making straight A’s along the way.
She gives much of the credit for that to her teachers at Heritage Middle School, where she’s now in eighth grade. But she also thinks art had something to do with it.
“It’s always been kind of a stress reliever,” Emily said. “It’s just something that I like to work on. It just kind of takes my mind off everything.”
These days, Emily is feeling great, and she said her life is “not much different” from that of her peers.
Because her pituitary gland is impaired, she has to inject herself with growth hormones every night, and she has more checkups than the average eighth-grader. And then there’s “a bunch” of pills that she takes.
“We always joke around and say I’m like an old lady when I shake my pill box,” she said.
“Since I’m shorter than most kids because my tumor stopped my growth, it’s kind of hard sometimes,” said Emily, who stands about 4-feet-5-inches now. “But I’m catching up pretty fast because of my growth hormone.”
Emily is saving her poster contest prize money for some international travel she wants to do in the future, but her poster has already packed its bags.
“It’s just amazing to think that other people could see my work that I don’t even know, that it’ll be all around the world,” she said. “I think it’s really cool.”