Keep It Real Video Contest Returns

Mission Now Includes Tobacco & Prescription Drugs

keep-it-realSparked by a grass roots fund-raising campaign, the Keep It Real video contest has returned after a one-year hiatus with a bigger reach and broader mission.

Call it Keep it Real REMIX. That’s what organizers have tabbed the revived program.

When Keep It Real lost funding after nine years, organizers raised money in part by widening its reach.

The Fayette County Agency for Substance Abuse Policy (part of the DrugFreeLex coalition) has welcomed to the campaign sister agencies in Bourbon-Harrison, Clark, Estill-Powell, Madison and Mercer counties.

These groups anchored the steering committee along with Bluegrass Regional Prevention Center and Video Editing Services in Lexington.

With contributions from those groups plus dozens of businesses and individuals (including Lexington Family Magazine, a charter member of the campaign), Keep It Real REMIX is set to go for its 10th installment.

The centerpiece of the campaign is the video contest in which high school students create their own 30-second commercials about teen substance abuse and enter them in a contest for cash prizes.

In the past, these focused on anti-underage drinking messages. This year, for the first time, students can address two other issues – tobacco products and prescription drug abuse.

“We’ve opened the categories because we know there is a need to address these issues,” said Jerian Petry, the chairperson of the Madison County ASAP.

“E-cigarettes are a big issue now and we hear about teens having ‘pharm parties’ where teens put prescription drugs in a bowl and just gobble them.”

The power of the campaign stems from the source of the message – peer-to-peer communication.

The idea of teens creating messages for their classmates has fueled the program.

“When the message is student-to-student, it connects with young people,” Petry said.

M.E. Kobes, the new Bluegrass Prevention director, echoed that sentiment, saying, “This is a great way to engage youth because they know first-hand what’s going on.

“Adults always seem to be 10 steps behind. We’re so excited to restart the campaign because it always gets a big response.”

Over the first nine years, Keep it Real received nearly 600 entries from 67 schools representing 47 counties.

Entries are judged both by an expert panel and by the public.

After entries are received, they are posted online ( where the public votes for the People’s Choice award.

That award and those selected by the experts for categories such as best director, best script and overall grand prize are presented at an Oscar-like ceremony at the Kentucky Theater.

In nine years, Keep It Real has awarded more than $17,700 in prize money.

“This is such a worthy cause and it brings something to students that they can get passionate about,” Petry said.

“It’s a hands-on project that has a lasting impact.”