Sunnyside Elementary student wins Justice Department's National Missing Children’s Day poster contest

Vincent Marshall
Dodge City Daily Globe

The votes are in and Sunnyside Elementary School student Heidy Jimena Perez Veleta of Dodge City, was announced as the winner of the 2021 National Missing Children’s Day poster contest.

According to the Justice Department’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, a component of the Office of Justice Programs, the poster contest was part of the 38th annual commemoration of National Missing Children’s Day.

The contest saw fifth graders from across the country create a poster based on the theme of “Bringing Our Missing Children Home Safely,” with the goal being an opportunity for schools, law enforcement and child advocates to discuss child safety issues with children and their parents.

Sunnyside Elementary School fifth grader Heidy Jimena Perez Veleta is the winner of the 2021 National Missing Children’s Day poster contest.

“It is truly remarkable that someone so young could be capable of capturing, in a single image, the range of emotion encompassed by the disappearance of a child,” said principal deputy assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Office of Justice Programs Amy Solomon. “With talent and insight beyond her years, Heidy has distilled the essence of Missing Children’s Day into a brilliantly conceived and beautifully executed work of art.”

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Veleta created a representation of two hands forming a heart with a small child sitting in the in the middle of the heart huddled head down with her hands around her knees.

According to Veleta, the heart symbolizes love and hope for families and parents as they search for their missing children.

“The artwork Heidy created is a heartfelt depiction of the love, and sadness, families feel when their child goes missing,” said OJJDP acting administrator Chyrl Jones. “We congratulate Heidy and all the contest participants for continuing the conversation of child safety in communities across the county.”

The Office of Justice Programs and its Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention lead the nation annually on May 25 in observation of National Missing Children’s Day, which began in 1983 when it was proclaimed by President Ronald Reagan.

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The day highlights child safety and honors professionals for their dedication in protecting children across the U.S.

OJJDP is launching a website featuring information about the awardees in lieu of an in-person ceremony, along with statements from Attorney General Merrick B. Garland, Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta, OJP Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Solomon, OJJDP Acting Administrator Jones and President and CEO of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children John F. Clark.

The ceremony can be seen at https://ojjdp.ojp.gov/events/missing-childrens-day/2021-national-missing-childrens-day-commemoration.

To contact the writer email vmarshall@gannett.com