The Kids Are Alright

Students’ anti-drug art for Red Ribbon Week featured on local patrol cars.
Media 1/Wrap This printed and installed students' anti-drug artwork.

During the early 1980’s, illegal drug use in America soared, fueled by crack cocaine – cheap, simple to produce and sold in small quantities. By 1985, 5.8 million Americans admitted to using cocaine on a routine basis. That same year, several school PTA groups across the nation banded together to demand action, adopting the red ribbon as their symbol to show intolerance for drugs in our schools, workplaces and communities. As a result, in 1988, an eight-day Red Ribbon Week was proclaimed by Congress, with Nancy Reagan as honorary chair. Every year since, Red Ribbon Week has gained more support, and this year, Wrap This got the chance to lend a helping hand.

Beginning in 1990, a contest challenged 5th-8th grade students across the US to design posters illustrating the dangers of drug use. Twelve winners are honored each year, and their work is featured in a special calendar.


This year, our sheriff’s office partnered with Florida’s Seminole County Public Schools to award 37 student artists, whose work was to be featured on the back windows of the deputies’ patrol cars, rather than on a calendar. The 37 selected Ford Explorer cruisers are driven by school resource officers who work at or near each winner’s school.

In response to our call for materials, 3M donated a $1,400 roll of perforated window wrap. Having strong ties to the community we all grew up in, it was an honor for us to donate our services, as well.

The students were given a month to submit their posters back in September. Once the winners were selected, Wrap This drum-scanned their artwork onto a thumb drive. Our lead designer, Jason Wissig, designed a template for the windows that showcased the students’ artwork along with the logos of contest partners and sponsors.

Printing the Explorers’ back windows took about 10 sq. ft. of vinyl each, so we printed nearly 400 sq. ft. on our brand new HP 570 Latex inkjet and finished it with 3M gloss overlaminate. After printing, Wrap This production wizard Scott Schmierer sent the vinyl through the plotter, cutting it to a perfect template shape so we could completely avoid trimming the window perf during installation. This was critical to keeping the winning designs secret until the awards ceremony, as we had a very limited installation window.


Media 1/Wrap This printed and installed students' artwork for Red Ribbon Week.
Media 1/Wrap This printed and installed students' artwork for Red Ribbon Week.

So, just days before the unveiling, the officers ran their cars through, stopping by our shop in 15-minute intervals to have the wraps installed. That was a hectic couple of days, but we weren’t about to stumble on this project! Thankfully, we made it, with the very last officer showing up just one hour before the big event.

On Jan. 24, hundreds of students, parents, officers and school personnel converged upon the large parking lot of Winter Springs High School for the winner sign-in and vehicle unveiling. All 37 Explorers were displayed, blue lights blazing, with their back windows covered. It was a treat to watch the unveiling of the artwork as the sheriff’s helicopter flew past overhead. The kids were beyond excited as news crews, family and friends posed for photos with the officers and their wrapped cruisers.

The night continued with a pizza party, and then onto the awards ceremony in the school’s auditorium, where the winners were honored on-stage with awards, gift cards and photos with the sheriff and school board officials.

All artwork will remain on the vehicles for the entire year and, in addition to adorning the back window of a cruiser, the Grand Prize winner has her artwork displayed on a massive, full-color LED billboard on a prominent roadway in our county.

Wrap This was honored to help with such a great cause and to witness the outpouring of support from our county leaders. We hope the kids will keep drawing!


Signs of the Times March 2019

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