The New York Civil Liberties Union today announced the winners of its annual Freedom of Expression contest, which invited young people in New York City to channel their creativity toward defending and expanding civil liberties in New York State and nationwide. The annual contest, funded by a grant from the Shelley and Donald Rubin Foundation, asks youth to explore a topic relevant to their lives and related to civil rights and liberties. This year, the contest asked young people: What is change you can believe in? Entries covered a wide range of issues, including LGBT rights, racial justice, reproductive freedom and immigration.

Visual Art 2nd Place Winner, Safae Bennani
“To see so many young people express a passionate commitment to civil liberties and social justice is inspiring,” said Donna Lieberman, NYCLU executive director. “Each of these winners tackled complex issues with intelligence, clarity and conviction. The NYCLU is proud to be a vehicle for their talent and creativity.” The awards will be presented to contest winners on Monday, July 26 at the NYCLU's annual Broadway Stands Up for Freedom! benefit concert. Dozens of Broadway's finest - including musical director Seth Rudetsky and leading actors from Hair, Next to Normal, Jersey Boys, Mary Poppins, Finian’s Rainbow, Rent and Passing Strange will take to the stage to salute the students and the NYCLU’s youth programs. This year 700 students submitted entries – the most in the contest’s history. The submissions were judged in four categories: written word, poetry, visual arts and multimedia. The contest was open to New York City youth 21 years old and younger. First-prize winners in each category received $500; second-prize winners, $200; and third-prize winners, $75.

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Multimedia 1st Place Winner– Stray, David Ceron, 18, Brooklyn, Restart

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The NYCLU also honored teachers citywide for engaging their students in the Freedom of Expression Contest: Melissa Diaz of Long Island City High School, Dale Hawrlyczak of LaGuardia High School, Ted Broutzas of Flushing High School, Jared Yapkowitz of the School of Diplomacy, Aliza Sherman of Townsend Harris High School, John O’Malley of Townsend Harris High School, Sarah Marcy of the Institute for Collaborative Education, Charlene Levi of Townsend Harris High School, Zacarias Rivera of the Legacy School for Integrated Studies, Cheryl Araujo of Langston Hughes Elementary School, Alison Lucon of Langston Hughes Elementary School, Judee Rosenbaum of Brooklyn College Academy, Stefan Stokes of Langston Hughes Elementary School and Kate Salute of Explorations Academy High School.

Freedom of Expression Contest: Winners 2010

Visual Art 1st Place Winner, Phyllis Yao
Written Word 1st Place (tie) – Building Homes, Ella Cheng, 16, Queens, Hunter College High School 1st Place (tie) – Metamorphosis, Yuna Park, 16, Bronx, Bronx High School of Science 2nd Place – Silence So Loud, Speaks So Proud, Lily Gellman, 16, Manhattan, The Beacon School 3rd Place – Thank Heaven for Little Girls, Yasmin Kelly, 15, Brooklyn, LaGuardia High School Poetry 1st Place – Unidentified Identity, Angy Rivera, 19, Flushing, John Jay College/NYS Youth Leadership Council 2nd Place – The Right to Life , Kwesi J. Walker-McKie, 16, LaGuardia High School 3rd Place – Like Cattle, Camonghne Felix, 18, Bronx, Bronx Community High School Visual Arts 1st Place – Fault, Phyllis Yao, 16, Manhattan, LaGuardia High School 2nd Place – Bound, Safae Bennani, 9th Grade, Bronx, Townsend Harris High School 3rd Place – A Cry for Help…Ignored, Ruben Sandoval, 10th Grade, Queens, Island Academy Multimedia 1st Place – Stray, David Ceron, 18, Brooklyn, Restart 2nd Place – I Believe, Diorlenny Rodriguez, Richard R. Green High School of Teaching 3rd Place – Objectification of Women in the Music Industry, Zora Kosoff, 9th Grade, Brooklyn, Institute for Collaborate Education.