In a time and place where students are seemingly offered STEM opportunities at every turn, it may be harder for those interested in writing to find outlets to share their talents.
The Palo Alto Humane Society (PAHS) is providing such an opportunity, however, with its first story writing competition for seventh- and eighth-graders.
The competition encourages junior high students from Santa Clara, San Mateo, San Francisco and Alameda counties to write a fiction or nonfiction story on the theme of animals and people helping each other. The deadline for submissions is April 15.
PAHS Executive Director Carole Hyde said she was inspired to launch the contest after seeing the success its sister organization, the Humane Education Network, has had with writing contests for high school students.
“I think it’s a great way to express an innate sense of compassion and kindness to animals,” Hyde said.
Hyde’s friend James Church will be among the judges.
“Writing takes thought, it makes you aware of the world in a new way, it stretches your imagination and it helps guide you to the reservoir of empathy that is in us all but too often hidden or tangled deep beneath the surface of daily life,” Church said. “For young people, writing a story about compassion for fellow creatures will be an adventure, and I would love to share that with them.”
He and the rest of the panel – chosen for their interest in writing and animal welfare – will judge the submissions on how well they express the relationship between humans and animals.
“I will be looking for how the story helps us see when the sense of empathy reveals itself, and perhaps what helps this compassion to emerge and grow,” Church said. “Remember, these are not meant as scientific essays. They are stories, a chance to use imagination and language in their most beautiful and compelling forms.”
The winning entry will be announced by June and published with professional illustrations.
To enter the contest, visit paloaltohumane.org and type “writing” in the search field.