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Jenny Lotz of Akron was moved after hearing about the struggles of mentally ill people during a health class from a woman who suffers from depression.

The story made an impression on Lotz, a 2001 graduate of Akron Central High School.

So much so that Lotz, 18, who has been drawing since the seventh grade, illustrated the plight of those with mental illness for a high school art contest in the spring.

Her acrylic painting of a person in a hole reaching for a vine of help from a person atop the hole was the grand prize winner of the inaugural "How Would You Make a Difference in the Life of a Person With a Mental Illness?" art contest.

The contest was sponsored by Break the Circle of Stigma, part of the Western New York Independent Living Project. Students from Akron Central High School, Immaculata Academy and Niagara Falls High School participated in the contest.

For winning top honors, Lotz received gift certificates, and her artwork was displayed in the Independent Living Center on Main Street.

She is now a freshman at Kent State University in Ohio.

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