Students design birth defect billboard

HIBBING — A black billboard containing the image of a glass of alcohol and a baby inside of a caution sign is currently catching the eyes of individuals traveling along Highway 169 near Fourth Avenue East.

The caption reads: “Nine months sober is a lifetime of freedom. Prevent fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS).”

The billboard was designed by Hibbing High School parenting class students Brandi Rusczak and Cheyenne Lustila, whose cousin is affected by FAS. The duo said they wanted to avoid being too fancy with the design of their project.

“We wanted to do something that was straight forward,” Lustila added. “We wanted to get the point across that it is 100-percent preventable.”

This marks the third year that the parenting class has done this project. The activity is part of a larger research assignment on birth defects where students are required to choose a birth defect, research it and present it to the class, said teacher Jeanne Bymark.

“The billboard assignment is designed to encourage students to think about how to get a message out quickly about a single defect,” she said.

Guest speaker Ben Blais of Lamar Advertising spoke to the class to give them guidelines and tips on how to create an effective billboard that gets the desired message across.

And the research done on FAS by both Rusczak and Lustia was an in depth project that gave them information to share with the rest of the class in an oral presentation, Bymark said.

“Their billboard is a public service announcement to the community conveying a warning to pregnant mothers to remain alcohol free during their nine months of pregnancy to ensure a healthy baby,” she said.

All of the students in the class designed a billboard then received the opportunity to vote on their favorite design for a chance at having it turned into a billboard.

Rusczak and Lustila’s FAS design was chosen.

“It is kind of cool that a parenting class can make something and have it shown for the entire community of Hibbing,” Rusczak said.

The billboard was sponsored by the Dr. Benjamin P. Owens Hibbing High School Legacy Foundation of the Minnesota Community Foundation. It will remain up for about a month.


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