Elizabeth Elaine Au Chun-ning is only 13 years old but she has already won two major art awards. In July last year, she clinched the grand prize at the 25th International Poster Contest for Youth, beating 3,000 other young artists from around the world. The theme of the competition was protecting marine turtles. And, just last month, she beat more than 10,000 participants to the grand title in the 10th International Youth Poetry and Art Contest organised by the United Nations Environment Programme. Her winning entry, a Chinese water-ink painting, highlighted the need to improve water quality in Hong Kong. The Form Two student from Tak Nga Secondary School is particularly keen on drawing pictures about environment and wildlife conservation issues. 'I want to become a vet,' she says. 'I want to tell people that we will have fewer and fewer opportunities to play in natural water or see wild animals if we don't do something to protect them now. 'I do a lot of research before drawing the pictures. The more I understand about the topics, the more ideas I can come up with.' Patience and determination were the keys to success for Ted Li Cheuk-tat, who beat 325,000 other young people aged 11 to 13 to win the top prize at the 17th annual Lions International Peace Poster Contest in January. With the theme 'Give Peace a Chance', Ted drew a maze to symbolise the plight of our planet. A pigeon, which represents peace, comes to the rescue by knocking down the maze with its beak. 'It took me almost five months to come up with the final work,' says the Form One student from La Salle College. 'The research took up a lot of time. My instructor helped me analyse the theme and taught me how to express my thoughts. Then I kept altering the design until I found the best one. You can't rush things. 'Once I decided to take part in the contest, I tried my best to complete the task. It wasn't easy though; sometimes I didn't know how to express my ideas. So it helped a lot having my instructor by my side.' Personal experience helped Connie Cheung Sheung-shing come up with a first-prize design in the international section of the 5th International Environmental Children's Drawing Contest organised by Unicef Japan last August. 'My drawing was based on a trip to Beijing during the winter,' says the 11-year-old Hong Kong International School student. 'It was a picture of happy children making a snowman in the courtyard of a traditional Beijing compound house on a sunny winter day. 'I could draw that special kind of house in detail as I have seen it.' Art teacher Henry Lau Hoo-cheong says that young people have to be very determined to excel at drawing. 'There are so many things to do in your spare time nowadays. If you want to draw well, you need to practise. Sitting there for hours drawing doesn't sound very interesting to most children,' he says. 'It requires a lot of patience.'