Kids in the Creek T-shirt Contest Winner Challenges Herself to Create Winning Design

By Jane Falkenstein | Apr 24, 2013
Photos by: Jane Falkenstein Eric Romaniszyn, executive director of Haywood Waterways (on right) presents 2013 Kids in the Creek T-shirt contest winner Erika Jimison (holding the first shirt off the press) with the first prize for her design. Also pictured (from left) are Maila Jimison, Erika's mother, Scott Jimison, and Don Jimison, Erika's father.

Canton Middle School student, Erika Jimison, isn’t afraid to challenge herself.  Her artistic ability to go beyond the ordinary resulted in a winning entry for her in the 2013 Kids in the Creek T-shirt Design competition.  Her unique design edged out 24 other entries from all three Haywood County middle schools.  Along with a $25 WalMart gift card, her design will be featured on over 700 t-shirts printed for this year’s Kids in the Creek program, to be held September 16-18.  Waynesville Middle School’s Rachel Lindsey, was named runner-up, for a $20 gift card from Nick & Nate’s Pizza.  This was the third year Haywood Waterways Association held the competition for the 8th grade students who participated in Kids in the Creek, a program that has educated over 10,000 Haywood County students since 1997.


Erika’s parents, Don and Maila Jimison, say that she has always loved to draw, sitting with a pencil and paper in her hands all her life.  Brother Josh likes to draw too, but admits that Erika has always been the family artist.  She has participated in Stephen Harrison’s advanced art classes at Canton Middle School for the past two years, winning the ART RAP competition both years.  Said Harrison “Erika is an extremely talented young lady.  She is very creative and has always had an interesting view on projects we complete in class.  She always challenges herself to go beyond a ‘simple solution’ to an artistic problem.  I’m extremely proud (and not surprised) that her design won this year!”


Rick Thomas, owner of Rikki Tikki Tees in Waynesville, has a personal investment in printing the shirts for the kids, though it is part of his business.  As a former teacher, he loves working with the students.  He noted, “Patience comes in handy, especially with a complex design like Erika’s.  But, I like, encouraging the students so they see that their artwork can make a difference.”  Eric Romaniszyn, Executive Director of Haywood Waterways Association, expressed that Haywood Waterways welcomes the variety of the designs students submit for the competition.  Said Romaniszyn, “It gives us a chance to see on paper what the kids are thinking about the environment.  A connection with nature through programs like Kids in the Creek can inspire students to dig a little deeper, to come up with some interesting takes on the program.  Every year the designs amaze us!”


This coming September 16-18 marks the 15th year for Haywood Waterways Association to host Kids in the Creek.  Every 8th grade student in Haywood County has the opportunity to participate in this life-changing event, led by a dream team of dedicated professional and amateur instructors and volunteers.  Students, teachers, and volunteers meet at the Canton Recreation Park to learn about the Pigeon River watershed.  While there’s a heavy dose of fun and excitement, Kids in the Creek has also shown that the classroom education students receive is enhanced by what they learn at the river.  It also says a lot about the commitment of the Haywood County Schools to ensure that all students get the same opportunities to benefit from one of the best educational opportunities in the Region. 


For more information on Kids in the Creek, or to become a volunteer or sponsor this event, contact Eric Romaniszyn at or call 828-476-4667 or Toll free at 877-700-7373.  You can also go to to learn more about Haywood Waterways and Kids in the Creek, and we are on Facebook at Haywood Waterways Association, Inc.