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Drug prevention program 'paints the state'

| May 24, 2023 12:00 AM

The Montana Meth Project is a large-scale prevention program aimed at reducing first-time teen meth use through public service messaging and community outreach.

The nonprofit was founded in 2005 by businessman and philanthropist Tom Siebel as a private-sector response to Montana’s critical public health issue.

People will remember when the MMP first started, radio stations across the state were flooded with testimonials of Montana youth sharing their horrid experiences and the television ads were meant to show real case scenarios of meth use and meant to scare the bejesus out of people, and they did.

Then, the following year a new drive was launched and carries on to this day.

Paint the State is a public art contest open to residents of the Big Sky Country 13-years and older to express creativity through visual creations messaging to youth the risks of using methamphetamine. Through the annual contest, hundreds of monument-sized public works of art with the "Not Even Once" message have been created across Montana. From barns and town building walls to common areas in public places to haybales and clothing, "Not Even Once" has made its mark and is undoubtedly understood by most Montanans who hear it.

For 2023, time is running out to enter, but the incentives to use imagination has a sweet carrot to compete for as prizes totaling more than $100,000, including three $10,000 grand prizes, will be awarded to the top submissions. One winner could win up to $20,000.

Paint the State is open to individual and group entries. The contest is an impactful community outreach project for youth groups, service organizations, treatment and recovery groups, as well as individual artists.

It’s with the deep generosity of the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation that cash awards of this caliber are possible. This is a statewide contest with a special invitation for Mineral and Sanders county residents to register and compete in a drug prevention program that harnesses the power of art and creativity to inspire drug-free lives. While incorporating the Meth Project’s "Not Even Once" message, Mineral and Sanders county teen participants will compete in the Glacier Country division and for the top teen statewide prizes, and the adult participants will compete statewide. Registration is currently open through May 31 in teen and adult divisions at PaintTheState.org.

“We believe in the power of large-scale public works of art to heal and inspire. When our ‘Not Even Once’ message is spread across the state, it is a constant reminder that there is always a brighter choice to live without meth,” said Amy Rue, executive director of the Montana Meth Project.

"We invite all Mineral and Sanders County residents 13 and older to participate in Paint the State 2023. It would be wonderful to see 'Not Even Once' images along the Interstate 90 corridor that showcase Mineral County's community spirit and talent," she said.

Judging and public online voting will take place over the summer, and the Meth Project will announce the winners in late summer.

Paint the State is supported completely by private funding. The $508,000 grant from the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation supports Paint the State prize money and the program’s educational outreach in and outside the classroom stirring peer-to-peer conversation about the risks of meth use.

The Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation joins the Thomas and Stacey Siebel Foundation, Gianforte Family Foundation, Stockman Bank, Town Pump, Gilhousen Family Foundation and Pennmont Foundation in supporting the drug-prevention program. Donations can be made to support the program at MontanaMeth.org.