The Palo Alto Humane Society is holding a short story contest for 7th- and 8th-graders in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties. The students are invited to become “Ambassadors of Compassion” by writing an original fiction or nonfiction story on the theme of animals and people helping each other.
The winning author will be awarded $500 and have his or her story published and professionally illustrated in a book by the animal welfare organization. Two runners up will also receive $200 each. All winners will receive a framed certificate.
“There are so many ways animals help people,” noted Palo Alto Humane Society executive director Carole Hyde. From companionship and therapy to farm help and rescue work, our bonds with animals and the ways in which we help each other are many.
“We think that the acts of researching and writing that will be involved in creating stories will help students develop an awareness in animal welfare and they will become ambassadors of compassion and agents of change,” Hyde said. “Through the act of writing, the students will help create a framework for a future society that is ethical toward animals.”
PAHS has long advocated for the welfare of animals, and they also support pet owners who need financial assistance to pay for veterinary services for their animals. And they have initiated a variety of education programs geared toward helping young people create a more ethical society that emphasizes empathy and responsibility toward all living beings.
The contest is now in its second year. Last year’s winner, then 7th-grader Vandana Ravi, took the prize with a story about a lonely girl who found a donkey that also needed a friend.
“It was beautifully written,” said Hyde, adding that it seemed to have been partially inspired by Palo Alto’s famous donkeys at Bol Park. Ravi’s story “Snapshot” has become part of a larger book on the welfare of donkeys, published by Palo Alto Humane Society and now available from PAHS.
Ravi will be on the three-member judges panel this year, joined by noted mystery author James Church and Heidi Lubin of the Children’s Discovery Museum in San Jose.
PAHS is hoping to find local businesses or other sponsors to help keep the contest going for many years to come. Companies or people interested in co-sponsoring the competition can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stories must be original, be between 800 and 1,000 words and must be submitted by midnight on March 31. Competition guidelines and a submission form may be found at www.paloaltohumane.org. You can also call at (650) 424-1901 for more information about the Palo Alto Humane Society or the contest.