PORT TOWNSEND — A colorful design by Amelia Rose Kauzlarich, an eighth-grade student at Blue Heron Middle School, was chosen as the winner in a contest for a Washington state license plate design for a series entitled “Ending Type 2 Diabetes.”
Her winning design features various fruits and vegetables encircling the globe with the statement “Managing diabetes is an art, not science.”
At a surprise ceremony Thursday afternoon, Kauzlarich, 14, was presented with a certificate and flowers by Marie Youssefirad, who sponsored the competition.
Kauzlarich will be given a $200 cash prize this summer during a fundraiser that will feature information, games, events and special guests.
Youssefirad established a nonprofit organization, the Fariborz Youssefirad Memorial Health Scholarship (FYMHS), to honor her husband’s wishes of bringing awareness of how to prevent Type 2 diabetes to young people. One of the fundraising ideas is to create a special issue license plate.
Kauzlarich was instantly inspired when the competition was announced in November.
“Most of my family has diabetes,” Kauzlarich said. “My grandpa, he died from liver cancer but he had diabetes and that affected it. My grandma has really bad diabetes and she doesn’t check her blood sugar. It’s scary. Everyone is affected by this somehow.”
She said the idea for the design came to her almost immediately.
“When our teacher first told us of this opportunity at the school, I thought in my head that the whole world needs to know that you can eat healthy.
“I thought of the idea of doing the world and putting fruits and vegetables all around it.
“One of the most important things is to have your fruits and vegetables every day, to have good nutrition for good health.”
Kauzlarich said she doesn’t consider herself an artist.
”I like to do art. It brings out stuff inside me that just goes on paper. Instead of writing words, I use my art to tell a story.”
Keeping the surprise was a bit of a challenge for Kauzlarich’s parents, Chris and Mary, and her sister Emma, 12. Her grandparents visited from Bremerton for the ceremony and two of her school friends were there to celebrate.
Youssefirad said 236 votes were cast for 48 designs created by students between the ages of 8 and 14 from the Port Townsend and Chimacum school districts. All entries received at least one vote. The margin between first and second was four votes. Voting took place on Dec. 22 and Jan. 5 in Port Townsend.
The sale of license plates will fund programs focusing on the disease education and prevention. Scholarships will be awarded to local high school seniors or college students in amounts ranging from $1,000 to $5,000.
Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects the way a person’s body regulates sugar or glucose. Type 2 typically has been found in older adults.
”T2 is now being found in children and can be controlled and reversed through good nutrition and lifestyle changes,” Youssefirad said. “Our mission is to tell that story.”
Kauzlarich’s father, Lieutenant Chris Kauzlarich, is a fireman with East Jefferson Fire Rescue.
“Her grandfather died from complications of Type 2 Diabetes about 12 years ago and it left a huge impression on Amelia to be health conscious,” he said.
“I’m going to tell everyone to buy my license plate,” Kauzlarich said. “I start driving in two years, and I’m buying my own license plate.
“If we eat healthy and exercise more, we can definitely defeat diabetes,” she said. “We can totally do this.”
For more information or to donate, see www.fymhs.org.
Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Jeannie McMacken can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at [email protected]