What Makes You Healthy Contest Winner Tells Her Story
By Tina Tran Freshman UCF (University Of Central Florida): It has been almost two years since I first heard about Reach Out Recovery’s High School Contest. The “What Makes You Healthy” High School Art/Media Contest started in 2021, and I was among the first winners with “Kung Fu and Mental Health”, an animation created by myself and my twin sister Victoria. I would like to start by sharing my gratitude towards Reach Out Recovery and Leslie Glass, one of their co-founders. Thank you for acknowledging our message and the effort we put into our animation. It is amazing that our animation has been viewed and enjoyed by many.
Reach Out Recovery (ROR) created the “What Makes You Healthy” High School Art/Media Contest to link mental health awareness and overall wellness with creativity. “Most teens don’t have a roadmap for health,” Leslie Glass told me. “Providing The Teen Guide To Health offers every teen the tools to get and stay healthy.” The contest awards cash scholarships for the best positive mental messaging by and for teens. Mrs. Glass added, “The goal of the contest is to create a platform for student art and mental health mentoring that can enhance emotional health and wellness in the high school environment.”
I still remember the spring of 2021, when I first heard about the Art/Media Contest through my high school teacher, Mr. Christopher Pauling. My sister and I were excited for the opportunity to spend time invoking our creative side with creating our submission. This was our first time attempting to create an animation.
We blocked out time over the summer and crafted a plan to get everything done. The first hurdle stood at finding a topic. Although we had started Kung Fu just a year ago, it made a huge impact on our health – both physically and mentally – thus we wanted to express that through our animation. I focused on the music, while my sister worked on the visuals.
The software used to create the original music was a free version, with limited tools. In addition, using music creation software for the first time led to a struggle to learn the tools, settings, and process. The animations took longer than expected because we chose to use a twelve frame model. That means that for each second of the animation we needed twelve drawings, for a total of about 1,248 frames. We underestimated the time and effort it takes to create a fully drawn animation with original music.
When we were done, it still felt unfinished. The art was rushed and the music was too simple.
Now as a freshman at UCF, I am experiencing the many stressors that every student must deal with. Adjusting to a new environment, new people, and schedule while also maintaining good health practices is essential.
As a Computer Science major, I often neglect my physical health. Homework involves sitting down for long hours on my computer. One academic heavy week led to a stress headache. Although I wanted to rest, it was time for Kung Fu class. I begrudgingly decided to attend class but surprisingly the exercise led to my headache being alleviated. Kung Fu continues to highlight the importance of maintaining physical health while in college.
Reflecting back on my high school experiences inspired me to write and share my story. I like to believe that the “unfinished” quality is symbolic of the journey of wellness in life. Many creatives say that a piece is always a work in progress. Similarly, the struggle of being healthy is never-ending. Something I learned is that after putting in the time and effort, looking back shows just how far you have come.
Leslie Glass’s note: The judges were impressed by the Tina and Victoria’s representation of their Asian culture through creation of animation, Haiku, and music. The competition taught them a new way to express themselves and inspired a friendship. Tina, Victoria, and their mom, Julia, are now valued members of the ROR Family. The 2023 High School What Makes You Healthy Art/Media Contest is now open for students on the West Coast Of Florida.