Message from Susan V. Bosak
Educator, Legacy Project
The Listen to a Life Story Contest is even more important today than it was when we started it 17 years ago.
Teacher Judy Jenkins in Maryland entered students for the first time this year. "Our students today are behind screens so frequently. This is an opportunity to actually sit with an older person and talk. The contest combines many life skills. The kids really enjoyed listening to a piece of an older person's life and then sharing the stories."
Yep. That's why we do this.
Everyone on this planet 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.
For the 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 9 years old and the oldest 101 years old. Generations learning from each other and learning with each other. 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 YOU 177. It's all up to YOU – Young and Old United.
We appreciate all the grandparents and grandfriends taking the time to share, and students taking the time to listen.
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, please know that we appreciate every single word you write and every part of yourself you share.
We have some folks we'd like 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 – especially Expressions of Time.
The last thank you is one that comes straight from 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, and underlining to evaluate every entry.
The judging process is as thorough as it is in large measure because of his efforts. And this year, as we faced the always difficult challenge of choosing the official winners, we even had an assist from a special "guest judge" – Jim's wife Mary.
The next Listen to a Life Story Contest starts on National Grandparents Day, Sunday, September 9, 2018. In the meantime, click below to find out this year's Grand Prize Timeless Award winner and the seven 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 2017-2018 national Listen to a Life Contest Winners
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