OF the 1.19 million entries from 75 jurisdictions and countries, 14-year-old Jeewoo Son, a freshman at Mount Carmel School, was selected as the 2021 Toyota Dream Car Art Contest “Mobility for All” special award winner.

Son was awarded $5,000 for herself and $10,000 for her school.

The contest is held for children around the world to draw their dream car, and is open to students in the following age categories: under 7 years old; 8- to 11-year-olds; and 12- to 15-year-olds.

An estimated 6.2 million children from roughly 100 countries have participated in the contest since 2004.

Son’s submission is titled “WRAP Car,” which stands for “World, Rescue, Assist, and Protect,” a car that saves and cures people from all natural disasters and viruses in the world.

The car can also fly, so that it is easy for people from far away to rescue and remove obstacles, safely moving people inside with its featured arms and legs.

The interior of the car is equipped with facilities for everyone to live safely and comfortably, much like within a city.

 “Earlier this year, Atkins Kroll Toyota invited children from all over the Marianas to share ideas about the future of mobility using their imagination and drawing their dream cars to life. Despite the pandemic, we received 265 submissions from Saipan and Guam,” said AK Saipan sales manager Kevin Barnes.

He added, “Toyota believes in nurturing the creativity of the next generation of inventors, thinkers, and innovators. Every great idea was born in the glimmer of a dream.”

Barnes also recognized Tribe Marianas co-founder and creative director Rob Travilla, local artist and community contributor Kim Mendiola, and Roil Soil Marketing & Clothing founder and creative director Shayne Villanueva for volunteering to serve as judges, recognizing the local talent and selecting nine entries to move on to the global level of the contest.

Barnes likewise recognized all participating schools for promoting the contest, as well as the participants for their entries.

“For us to be able to give [Mount Carmel School] $10,000 for them to use to further the children’s education at their school is a good incentive and motivation just to be able to better our community,” said Barnes.

“Because Jeewoo won in her category and she was a student of Mount Carmel School, the school was awarded money just so that they can continue to facilitate this type of thing for their students: art, innovation, [and] imagination. They as a whole, as a school, cultivate those skills, those traits, so we wanted to support the school to allow them to help more people.”

Despite the pandemic, several entries were submitted this year at the local level, facilitated by participating schools.

This year, there were no entries from schools on Rota and Tinian, but there were about 120 entries from Saipan alone, Barnes said.

“That’s a lot considering that they only had a couple of weeks to pull it together and get these entries in,” he said.

MCS vice principal Filmah Buenaflor was present for the awarding and said that the funds will go toward the school’s art program.

She congratulated Son for her win, thanked Son’s mother for encouraging children to take up art, and thanked Toyota for the award.

“If you look at [Son’s] artwork, it shows her creativity and it connects to what’s happening now in our society,” said Buenaflor.

In an interview, Son expressed her gratitude to Toyota for selecting her as the recipient of this award.

“[When I first found out that I had won], I was so surprised and so happy,” she said.

Son had first learned of the contest after her older sister, Juyeong Son who is now a senior at Mount Carmel School, participated and won in 2016.

Since then, she has entered the contest three times, winning at the local level the first two tries, then winning on a global level on her third try.

For her entry in this year’s contest, Son said that it took her a week to finish her piece.

“I was thinking about the world right now because now Covid-19 is so dangerous... Before, [the world] was so happy. Everyone played together, but right now, we cannot because of Covid-19. I hope that [the pandemic] will be gone,” she said.

Son had first learned of her win from her mother, Juyoung Lee, who teaches art to children.

“I’m very grateful... It’s a very good experience,” said Lee, notably proud of both of her artistic daughters who both won in their respective age categories on the local level in the 2018 contest.

Son was born in South Korea and moved to Saipan about six years ago with her family.

Unfortunately, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Son and other winners of this year’s contest cannot take a trip to Japan, which has typically been part of the contest’s award.

To the younger generation who may be interested in art, Son said, “[You] can join and you can win. It’s going to be a great experience for [you].”

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