“Yay for the power of the arts!”

That was Pauline Sameshima‘s response when she heard that the use of methamphetamine among Idaho teenagers dropped 52 percent between 2007 and 2009, after a series of dramatic video ads.   It isn’t just the writing and acting that give the ads their power, but something also dear to the heart of the assistant professor: research.  The videos were based on key emotional messages that had been tested and shown to influence teens.

The ads deal graphically with prostitution, violent crime and lost lives.  When Pauline showed the ads to participants in the Coeur d’Alene Tribal Leadership Camp, a few of them laughed — maybe out of uneasiness, or because that’s just what teens do when they think adults are trying to impress them.  But the students dived into their assignment, which was to add their own artwork to more than 200 signs printed with the anti-meth mantra “Not Even Once.”

The signs are now posted along U.S. Highway 95 in Plummer, and constitute an entry in the Idaho Meth Project’s Paint the State public art contest.  Two of the teens created their own entries, including this bright banner at the tribe’s Wellness Center.  You can watch for the winners and view the video ads at the Idaho Meth Project Web site.