Mariha Samapti, a seventh grader at Pleasantville Middle School, was the winner of last year’s PSA contest and had her artwork turned into a billboard.

ABSECON – Middle school students in Atlantic County are invited to create a public service announcement as a message to parents about the dangers of underage drinking and providing alcohol to those under the age of 21.

Join Together Atlantic County, a countywide substance misuse prevention coalition is sponsoring the contest.

“The younger a person starts drinking, the more likely he or she is to have alcohol problems later in life,” according to a statement from Ashley Rhea of JTAC. “A person who starts drinking as a young teen is four times more likely to become an alcoholic than someone who does not drink until age 21.”

Statistics show that most young people do not drink alcohol, Rhea said. Seventy percent of youths aged 12-20 have not had a drink in the last month. Providing alcohol to those under 21 is illegal and carries a fine $1,000 and six months in jail.

Students in grades six through eight are invited to create a 8.5- by 11-inch landscape message. The top three submissions will receive prizes and the winning entry will be turned into a billboard.

Crayons, pens, markers, pencils and graphic art are permissible, but do not use paint, glitter or glitter glue. Also refrain from using copyrighted characters or celebrities.

A fact sheet containing bullet point facts about underage drinking that can be used to guide students is available in the contest packet. Entry forms and contest rules are available at jtacnj.org.

Entries are due to the Atlantic County Prevention Resources office, 626 N. Shore Road, Absecon, NJ 08210 no later than 4 p.m. Friday, March 29.