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For Immediate Release: 3/21/2019

Janine Kava | janine.kava@dcjs.ny.gov
Jill Spadaro | jill.spadaro@dcjs.ny.gov 
Press Office, Division of Criminal Justice Services | (518) 457-8828

Brooklyn fifth-grader wins New York’s Missing Children’s Day Poster Contest

Poster created by 10-year-old will represent New York State in national contest

All New York State entries will be displayed at Empire State Plaza Concourse in Albany

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Ella Jiang's first-place poster, which is representing New York State in the National Missing Children's Day Poster Contest, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Justice.
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Poster contest winner Ella Jiang and her fifth-grade teacher, Leying Zhang.
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From left to right: Contest judges DCJS Executive Deputy Commissioner Michael C. Green; Barbara Reeley, whose grandson, Jaliek Rainwalker, disappeared from Washington County in 2007; Deputy Joe Guice from Albany County Sheriff's Office.

Ella Jiang wanted to show that a missing child is like a missing piece of a puzzle. The poster by the talented 10-year-old from P.S. 69K Vincent D. Grippo School in Brooklyn illustrates a maze with the word “LOVE” and a family puzzle outside the maze.

“In my poster, I used a maze to represent the world because you can get lost in it,” Ella wrote about her poster. “Follow LOVE to get back home.”

Ella’s poster was chosen from 167 entries that qualified for judging in New York’s contest to select the state’s entry in the National Missing Children’s Day Poster Contest, a competition for fifth-graders sponsored annually by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). New York and other states coordinate their own contests, then the state winners compete against each other in the national competition.

The New York State Missing Persons Clearinghouse, which is located at the state Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS), sponsored the state’s contest and received posters from 32 schools statewide. Clearinghouse staff narrowed the entries to 45 for review by three judges, who evaluated the submissions without knowing the students’ names or schools they attend: DCJS Executive Deputy Commissioner Michael C. Green, Deputy Joe Guice from Albany County Sheriff’s Office and Barbara Reeley, whose grandson, Jaliek Rainwalker, disappeared from Washington County in 2007 when he was 12 years old.

“The creativity and thoughtfulness showcased in these entries made this competition very difficult to judge,” Commissioner Green said. “The students, their families and teachers should be extremely proud of their work, which will help shine a light on such an important issue.”

The judges also selected second- and third-place winners: Mariam Amin from P.S. 31 William T. Davis in Staten Island and Abigail Poku from P.S. 114 Luis Llorens Torres School in the Bronx. The three winning posters and all other qualifying entries will be on display at the Empire State Plaza Concourse in Albany during the week of May 20, selected because Missing Children’s Day is marked annually on May 25.

Ella and other state contest winners will receive a national award certificate from the federal Justice Department. The winner of the national contest will be notified in April and invited to Washington, D.C. to participate in the National Missing Children’s Day ceremony scheduled for May 22, 2019. The winning poster will be used to promote National Missing Children’s Day.

May 25 was designated National Missing Children’s Day in 1983. On that date four years earlier, 6-year-old Etan Patz vanished in New York City. The boy’s disappearance gained wide publicity and created a groundswell of attention to the plight of missing children. A New Jersey man was convicted in 2017 for the kidnapping and murder of Patz and sentenced to life in prison.

The state and national poster competitions are designed to raise awareness and educate the public about unresolved missing children cases. In 2018, there were 14,697 children reported missing across New York State, with nearly 96 percent reported as runaways. The overwhelming majority of these children returned home, but more than 1,600 missing children cases remained unresolved at the end of the year.

The Missing Persons Clearinghouse assists law enforcement agencies by providing training, case management guidance and investigative support, such as publicizing missing children cases. It also administers the state’s Missing Child Alerts, which are activated when a case involving a missing child under the age of 21 doesn’t meet AMBER Alert criteria.

New Yorkers can register with NY-ALERT to receive notifications whenever Missing Child, AMBER, Missing College Student, or Missing Vulnerable Adult alerts are activated. Visit alert.ny.gov to register; anyone with an existing NY-ALERT account can opt to receive these alerts by updating their profile.

The New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services (www.criminaljustice.ny.gov) is a multi-function criminal justice support agency with a variety of responsibilities, including law enforcement training; collection and analysis of statewide crime data; maintenance of criminal history information and fingerprint files; administrative oversight of the state’s DNA databank, in partnership with the New York State Police; funding and oversight of probation and community correction programs; administration of federal and state criminal justice funds; support of criminal justice-related agencies across the state; and administration of the state’s Sex Offender Registry.