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Local students add creative touch to special section of newspaper advertisements

Every year, students from grades 4 and 5 channel their creativity to design ads for local businesses

When it comes to creativity, it’s hard to beat the incredible ideas that come from a child’s mind.

This unbridled imagination is the driving concept behind the Design An Ad special section in the Tri-City News – the most popular section of the entire year.

Each year, Grade 4 and 5 students in School District 43 put their creativity to work designing one-of-a-kind newspaper advertisements for the Tri-City News’ clients, ranging from local car dealerships to flooring stores.

This year, the students at Coquitlam River, Mountain Meadows, Nestor and Kilmer Elementary participated. 

“We empower children to use their imaginations and, wow, do they ever deliver the most amazing work,” says Tri-City News publisher Lara Graham. “The ads are adorable and thoughtful – our clients just love them.”

Here’s how it works.

Advertisers participating in the program give the paper an idea of what they want the ad to look like. From there, the brief is turned over to the participating classroom.

The students then throw themselves into the assignment with gusto, sometimes even visiting the local business to paint a better picture of who they are and what they do.

“In some of the classes, the teachers use it as an opportunity for a fun art assignment,” Graham explains.

The excitement from the children at the opportunity is palpable. Graham recalls that during class presentations to explain the program, the students eagerly discussed which businesses they wanted as clients.

A popular assignment was the animal shelter in Coquitlam and Village Toy Shop in Port Moody.

“Children are always so excited to contribute in meaningful ways to the betterment of their local environment and community,” says Nina Togno, a teacher at Coquitlam River Elementary.

“With this particular project, nothing beats the wide-eyed expressions, and looks of concern, curiosity, and confusion I get when I say, ‘some adults in our community need your help with designing ads for their business.’”

“The students understand it to be a huge responsibility and want to make the business proud of their unique perspectives in their design.”

After the students complete their designs for their specific business’s advertisement, the team at Tri-City News picks them up and presents them to the clients, who choose which one will appear in the paper.

“I am always surprised at how dedicated the students are in working through the design process, making revisions, and creating multiple drafts in order to get it ‘just right,’” Togno continues.

“They show such insight and give much thought into designing their ads to help local businesses be more successful. I wouldn’t want to be the one who has to choose the winning ad!”

Student designs have included drawing ads for a dental office and a Thrifty Foods.

The Design An Ad special section in TriCity News experiences such success for participating clients due to the dedicated readership, Graham explains.

Not only do the local businesses benefit from the exposure to the newspaper’s regular circulation, but their ad also receives a bump from all the people eager to see the elementary artists’ work.

“The readership is one of the best benefits for advertisers who participate in this program,” she says.

“Every grandparent, parent, aunt, uncle, and all the parents in the school make sure to go pick up the paper. It’s great for advertisers.”

The program is also an excellent way for the community to come together to support the local economy during what has been a difficult time for many small businesses.

In this way, the scope of influence is broader than many may realize, as the local paper, local schools, and local businesses all benefit from this great initiative.

This is the eighth year Tri-City News has run the Design An Ad special section, which initially started in the paper’s previous iteration as the Coquitlam Now approximately 17 years ago.

“The students really do provide such quality work,” Togno describes. “I am so thankful to the Tri-City News and to the businesses who have reached out to students to let them know you value them.”

Click here to view the online version of the 2023 Tri-City News Design An Ad feature.

To arrange a child-designed advertisement for your business today, please contact Lara Graham at [email protected].

To browse the businesses that participated in Design an Ad 2023, visit .