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Local students bring creativity to special section of newspaper advertisements

Each year, Grade 4 and 5 students put their creativity to work designing advertisements for local businesses
The Design An Ad is a special section in the Tri-City News.

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

That’s the 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, which range from local veterinarians to grocery stores.

“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 who participate in the program give the paper an idea of what they want the ad to look like and then 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 get a better feel for the business.

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

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 an advertisement for the Village Toy Shop in Port Moody, which was designed by a school in Port Moody.

“That was a great example of the community working together. The business was in their area and they knew it well, so they were really well-positioned to design what the client wanted,” says project coordinator Elayne Aarbo.

After the students complete their designs for the client’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.

“Some of them have a really hard time deciding which one to run. It’s a hard choice,” Aarbo says. “They just love them. And even if they don’t select them to run in the newspaper, they still usually hold onto them or put them up for display in their business.”

Student designs have included drawing race cars for an advertisement for a car dealership and cats getting needles for a veterinary clinic ad.

All students in the classroom who participate in designing an advertisement are entered in a draw for a Coquitlam Centre gift card.

“And, of course, the student whose advertisement is chosen gets the best prize of all, to see their art in the newspaper,” Graham says.

The Design An Ad special section is so successful for its clients because of the readership, Graham says. Not only do the local businesses get the benefit of exposure to the newspaper’s regular circulation, their ad also gets 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,” Graham says.

“Every grandparent, parent, aunt, and 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. The local paper, local schools, and local businesses all benefit from this great initiative.

This is the sixth year that the Tri-City News has run the Design An Ad special section, which was originally started in the paper’s previous iteration as the Coquitlam Now approximately 16 years ago.

Click here to view the online version of the 2021 Tri-City News Design An Ad feature.

To arrange a child-designed advertisement for your business today, please contact Lara Graham at