Rotary Club of White Rock member Fred McCreath hopes a writing contest for high school students will boost the skill and raise awareness of local issues among youth.

Rotary Club of White Rock member Fred McCreath hopes a writing contest for high school students will boost the skill and raise awareness of local issues among youth.

Writing contest aims to turn page on youth literacy

Organizers hope a pilot writing contest for students at five high schools will also raise awareness of local issues among youth.

A writing contest aimed at boosting literacy in local youth has launched on the Semiahmoo Peninsula.

Piloted by the Rotary Club of White Rock in partnership with Peace Arch News, the competition challenges students at five Peninsula high schools – Panorama Ridge, Elgin Park, Earl Marriott, Semiahmoo and Sullivan Heights – to write a 250- to 400-word opinion piece based on a news or other article of interest to them that has been published in the PAN since March 1.

The top three, as judged by Rotary members, will receive cash prizes, with matching amounts donated to the winners’ schools. A number of submissions will also be published by PAN.

Rotarian Fred McCreath said the idea for the contest arose last fall during a discussion of newspapers, and seemed a perfect initiative for the club to pursue, given that literacy is one of the pillars of Rotary. Noting social media is also having an impact on how young people communicate, a plan to encourage the written word was developed.

“I see with my own grandkids that the written word seems to be disappearing. You’ve got to put it in (140) characters or you don’t have anything,” McCreath said, referring to the limit Twitter puts on Tweets.

Students have been given six weeks to submit an entry for the contest; winners will be announced before school ends in June.

McCreath said if the program is well-received, the hope is to expand it to include elementary students and other categories.

Regardless, there will be benefits.

“The kids at a minimum will become more aware of the issues and what’s going on in the community,” McCreath said. “Anything that we can do that helps build community is a positive.”

Sponsors are still being sought for the cash prizes. To get involved or for more information, call 604-358-5401 or 604-349-7818, or email fredmc@shaw.ca or rajindcan@gmail.com