Two techno-savvy youths help out Whidbey Island Nourishes, design new posters
February 13, 2012 · Updated 9:40 AM
Two young, ambitious members of the 4-HD Video Club recently created new, eye-catching posters for Whidbey Island Nourishes. The posters will appear in the halls of Langley Middle School and the high schools on South Whidbey in an effort to inform youths about the free food program.
WIN founder and director Mary Fisher is thrilled with the idea and the outcome.
“There are three different designs … so that we could have one that appeals to boys, one for girls and one unisex,” Fisher said.
Twelve-year-old twins, Avrey and Dustin Scharwat, worked with 4-HD leader Robert Elphick, also known as the “resident genius” and member of the Macintosh Appreciation Group of Island County, the group that funds the 4-HD club. For more than a year the Scharwat boys have been involved in the club, which is designed to teach teenagers how to produce promotional materials, videos, documentaries and movies using Macintosh software and video equipment.The home-schooled brothers were charged with not only creating posters that would help students know that free food is available to them after school hours and on non-school days in various public locations, but also with capturing their attention enough to read the posters.
“Mary Fisher said that they would be using silhouettes in the design. I was advising them on what silhouettes would catch the eye of the kids,” Dustin said.
The boys’ mom, Paula Scharwat, said it was apparent that the boys had a handle on what was needed from the start.
“It became obvious that the images the kids were attracted to were not what the adults were attracted to,” Paula Scharwat said.
“Of course, we’re trying to reach kids,” Avrey said.
And in doing that, some research was in order.
“We realized that there were a lot more homeless people on the island than we had thought and making the posters made us feel good because they would help other kids who were hungry. That made us feel good,” Avrey added.
Dustin, who was at the first meeting with WIN, made several suggestions off the bat.
“One was a basketball player and instead of having a basketball you have like an orange,” Dustin said.
“Another one was for the girls — there was ballerinas kicking fruits. Then another one was a karate person kicking fruits. Another one was a skateboarder skating on top of the fruits. And then musicians,” he added. (A trombonist has fruit flying out of his instrument.)
The 3-foot-long, landscape-style posters pop with various combinations of brightly colored text and silhouettes of the active figures.
“The graphics really catch the eye and the mission statement, as well as information about signing up for our back pack program,” the obviously thrilled Fisher said.
Dustin and Avrey came up with the colors, too, choosing orange for the musicians, pink for the ballerinas and lime green (Dustin’s favorite color) for the skateboarders.
“I think the karate guy poster was black and dark blue,” Dustin decided.
It was also the club’s idea to include the “Quick Response Code” symbols on each of the posters, which links to smart phones and pulls up the WIN website immediately.
“We older folks who make the food and don't have smart phones would not have thought of that,” Fisher said.
The boys’ said creating the posters for WIN involved everything from finding the clip art of the flying fruit at the right pixel size, to working with the silhouetted figures and learning how to convert black images to color ones.
“It took a lot of imagination to figure this out,” Elphick said.
Organizers at WIN told the boys that the goal was to show healthy bodies doing things teens and preteens would be interested in doing. They wanted the posters to reveal the association between healthy foods and young bodies. That’s when the idea to have the fruits and vegetable flying off the foot of a dancer, or off the karate kicker occurred to them.
“It was so helpful to have a 12-year-old designer tell us what would catch his eye,” Fisher said.
The students made five mock-up posters, from which WIN chose three final designs. The poster team also came up with the idea to have the posters printed in a landscape format so they could print two-per page and save on costs and trees.
The impetus to engage the 4-HD club came from a previous project, for which Fisher had seen a presentation. Dustin and Avrey have been busy under the mentorship of Elphick, a retired physicist. Take a tour along the Coupeville Wharf and those Quick Response Code symbols are in evidence, thanks to the Scharwat brothers.
The boys also made a historical film for the Port of Coupeville website titled “Coupeville Wharf — History,’ http://portofcoupeville.org/data/wharf_history which they researched themselves, played the violin for its soundtrack, did the voiceover narration and edited.
Just as that project led to the WIN poster project, now the South Whidbey Historical Museum would like to tap into the boys’ skills.
“We’re doing a project for the South Whidbey museum. They saw the posters for WIN and asked us to make posters for them,” Avrey said.
“No, more like one giant poster,” Dustin said.
“One skinny poster, like a timeline for Whidbey Island,” he added.
The timeline the boys create will ultimately be displayed at the museum. But the demand continues.
“We just finished the solar energy project at Greenbank Farm,” Dustin said.
That project also included installing the Quick Response Codes for the farm’s solar energy project and gathering information for a future documentary about the solar panel arrays at that site.
Beyond Avrey and Dustin’s home-schooling projects, the entire 4-HD group will be working on an emergency preparedness video for the island, as well as providing a service to create personal documentaries for folks using photographs and information from one’s personal history.
Fisher is just glad she happened to discover all the work the club was doing and could utilize their skills.
“It has turned out to be a great pairing for both Whidbey Island Nourishes and the 4-H Video Club,” Fisher said.
To find out more about the club, email Elphick at firstname.lastname@example.org.