Message from Susan V. Bosak
Educator, Legacy Project
Sometimes in this fast-paced world, we need to stop and just listen to each other. Everyone has a unique story – all we have to do is listen. And if we listen, we can change lives, including our own, and change communities.
That's the power of the annual Listen to a Life Story Contest.
Jason Richardson is an English Teacher at Cloquet Senior High School in Cloquet, MN. He's helped students enter the contest for many years, and one of his students is a winner this year. He comments, "I appreciate your writing contest and the opportunity it provides young writers. It's the most meaningful assignment my students do."
One of the things students say they want most from school is meaningful learning.
The thousands of stories we receive from across the country are as varied as the real lives behind them – touching, tragic, humorous, heartfelt. All are meaningful in their own way, and become more meaningful through the process of sharing.
We appreciate grandparents and grandfriends taking the time to share, and students taking the time to listen.
This contest has been happening for sixteen years. A lot of people put in a lot of work to make it happen – but it's worth it. Every year we read fascinating stories and learn about relationships started and others made closer. That doesn't change. One of the big things that has changed over the years is the use of technology to record and share life stories.
While not every entry can be an "official winner," everyone who participates in this contest is a winner. Each entry is important to us, and we respect the time – and effort – you put into making an entry happen. While I wish we had the resources to provide personal feedback on each entry, know that we appreciate every single word you write and every part of yourself you share.
For the Listen to a Life Contest, a young person 8-18 years interviews an older adult 50 years or over about their life experiences – their dreams and goals, obstacles they overcame, pivotal moments, how they found hope – and submits a 300-word essay.
Our youngest entrant this year was 8 years old and the oldest 98 years old – a nine decade difference! Generations learning from each other, learning with each other. And you know what? I believe this kind of meaningful intergenerational engagement can change the world. That's why the Legacy Project has the global intergenerational initiative called YOU 177. It's all up to YOU – Young and Old United.
But back to this year's Listen to a Life Contest. We have some people to thank – because without them this contest wouldn't be possible. First, a warm thank you to the teachers and parents who encourage and support young people in entering this contest. A grateful thank you to our long-time partner Generations United in Washington, DC, who helps get the word out to young and old, and organizations big and small, across the country. And an appreciative thank you to our corporate sponsors who provide such great prizes – Lenovo, Frame USA, and Expressions of Time.
The last thank you is perhaps closest to my heart – to our lead judge Jim Barry, a retired educator who cares about young people, language, and the hope we can find across generations. He puts in days of work each year carefully reading through submissions and highlighting, starring, underlining to find the strengths in every entry.
The judging process is as thorough as it is in large measure because of his efforts. He deserves much more appreciation than we can give him here.
The next Listen to a Life Story Contest starts on National Grandparents Day, Sunday, September 11, 2016. In the meantime, click below to find out this year's Grand Prize Timeless Award winner and the ten national runner-up Legacy Award winners. The Legacy Award winners are presented in no particular order, other than an interesting sequence. Enjoy the stories!
With warm wishes,
Susan V. Bosak
Read the 2015-2016 national Listen to a Life Contest Winners
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