Book-Writing Competition Inspires Kids To Write About Local Female Heroes

Kids across the nation are getting involved.

Women's issues are not just a woman's issue —  they're a human issue. And while there may not be one solution to solving gender inequality, we can start by ensuring our children are educated on the importance of feminism, respect, and equality. 

In an effort to teach kids that women can be powerful and influential, a small nonprofit is holding a book writing competition for kids to write about their favorite local heroines. 

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Photo courtesy of The National Youth Foundation

The National Youth Foundation, a Pennsylvania-based initiative dedicated to diverse youth literacy, was founded by three women Sophia Hanson, Jamee Joppy, and Carolyn Crawford. Hanson had been a longtime volunteer for  Scholastic's Kids Are Authors competition, and after the program ended its 30-year run, she saw an opportunity to keep the spirit of child authors alive.  "After the idea was in my head, all I needed was the nerve to make it happen," Hanson told A Plus. "My husband, Tom, had been urging me to establish a nonprofit and to run my own writing competition, but something was missing.   My sister Jamee Joppy, and my friend Carolyn Crawford, said let's do this together.  That moment was magical because as a team of women, we knew we could do it and be successful." 

With a mission to improve literacy, promote tolerance, and educate children through creative programming, the foundation launched last March and organizes book-writing competitions. The last competition's theme was tolerance, and this current theme, centered on female visibility, could not be more timely. "Our 'local heroines' theme was inspired by the lack of biographies on women for my two daughters," Hanson said. " [...] Everywhere we went, they usually had the same four to five biographies on women, which my girls had already read.  As a result, they read bios on men.  The goal of the competition is to create and make available to the public, more biographies on women."

Photo courtesy of The National Youth Foundation

Kids (grades K-8)  participating in the competition are free to interpret the theme however they'd like in 20-30 pages. With so many books oversaturated with male protagonists or profiles, this competition definitely inspires children to think outside the box. According to HuffPost, "In an analysis of history books published in 2015, Slate found that more than 70 percent of the biographies were written about men." 

There are plenty of women doing awesome things in the world, and not all of them are celebrities either. The local heroine theme encourages children and parents to discover heroes in their communities. "We know that the students, both boys and girls, who participated, have developed a new level of respect for the woman or women they interviewed and wrote about," Hanson told A Plus. "This respect will help the girls develop self-esteem and respect for women overall.  As for the boys, it expands their perceptions of women.  Now and later in life, the respect that the boys develop can impact how they see and treat women."  

This book-competition, which had a deadline of Jan 4, will announce the winner on March 26. Winners will get their book published and donated throughout public libraries across the country and will receive $500 in prizes. Books received include profiles on amazing women such as Dona J. Sensenig, a woman who learned Spanish so she could help immigrants with healthcare (back before hospitals had bilingual staff); Edie Lutnick,  President of the Cantor Fitzgerald Relief Fund; Lisa Baldwin, a business owner; Dr. Hallman, a STEM teacher; and the moms of some this kids.

"We plan to host the Amazing Women's Edition - Local Heroines Competition again next year," said Hanson.  "It might be hard to believe, but we were rejected for all but one of the cash grants we submitted for the Local Heroines Competition. Pollination Project granted us $1,000 and we are truly grateful!!  We were successful in funding our project with the [male] athletes [in a previous competition], so our goal is to get people to recognize the value of supporting books on women."

 (H/T: HuffPost)

UPDATE: This article has been updated to include comments by Sophia Hanson. 

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