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Cottonwood Heights Journal

Ridgecrest student wants peers to be superheroes in fight against drugs

Feb 03, 2022 10:21AM ● By Julie Slama

Ridgecrest Elementary fifth-grader Moya Croft shows the shirt she designed in the DARE T-shirt contest. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

Ridgecrest Elementary fifth-grader Moya Croft knows she has the power to say no to drugs and to be kind and respectful.

It’s not only what she has learned in her Drug Abuse Resistance Education program at school, but also what she portrayed on her winning T-shirt design.

“I want everyone to know they are superheroes when they say no to drugs and they’re respectful and kind,” she said.

Her shirt design has a lightning bolt in the middle of a circle with the words “You have the power.” Like a typical prohibition or “do not” sign, the lightning bolt cancels out the words bullying and drugs. Around the circle, it reminds others to say no to drugs, be kind and be respectful.

It was a message and design that Cottonwood Heights Police Chief Robby Russo selected from dozens of entries from fifth-grade students who attend Bella Vista, Butler, Canyon View, Oakdale and Ridgecrest elementaries.

“It was a good message; it was clean,” he said. “It embraced what the curriculum was, and it was a logo that adults and kids can wear and would be appealing to a large demographic.”

This was the first time a DARE T-shirt design contest was held, Russo said, saying that Canyons School District held the contest that he got to help judge.

“What could be better than having the kids design their own shirt?” he said. “It was awesome. We had a lot of participants and a lot of great ideas. The kids did it and had a buy-in to the shirt, the message, and I think there’s something that was more novel than we would come up with ourselves. I’m really excited about it.”

Russo said 600 shirts have been printed and will be distributed at the area students’ DARE graduations. He said he expects to use this design for a couple years. 

Moya learned she was the winner during a school assembly that the Chief and her DARE teacher, Officer Kelly Taylor, attended along with her parents.

“We held the shirt up and said, ‘Who’s is it?’ And the little girl, she was shaking and so excited. She came up and we put it on her, and she was still shaking and crying. She was a wonderful little girl,” Russo said.

Moya remembered shaking as she opened the envelope which contained $250 prize money, which was donated from a private contributor.

“My dad whispered to me, ‘Don’t fall over,’ but I couldn’t stop my hands from shaking. It’s my first big contest,” she said. “The Chief said it gave him hope and made him happy.”

Russo said that with recent civil unrest, the COVID-19 pandemic and other things, it renewed his hope when “a little fifth-grader does a really cool shirt about being kind and being thoughtful and no bullying. I thought, ‘Wow! That is really inspiring.’”