The Annette Howell Turner Center for the Arts and the Young Writers League (YoWL) are seeking fiction, non-fiction, and poetry entries for the “Art of Writing” contest. The contest is open to middle and high school students in Valdosta, Lowndes County, and throughout south Georgia and north Florida.

The contest is hosted annually and is sponsored in part by the Valdosta United Way. Each year, a different theme that inspires young people to express themselves concerning important topics is chosen. The theme for the third annual competition is “I Have a Dream.”

Cash prizes will be awarded to the top three winners in each category at both the middle and high school levels, resulting in $2,500 in awards to youth. The entry deadline is January 20, 2023, which is the Friday after Martin Luther King Jr. Day. One week later, on Friday, January 27, 2023, the Turner Center will present the free performance of the “I Have a Dream” musical. The musical will be staged at 6:30 pm at the Valdosta High School Performing Arts Center at 3101 Barack Obama Boulevard.

Winning submissions and all honorable mentions will be announced at the Youth Art Month Reception at the Turner Center on Sunday, February 26, 2023 from 1 pm to 4 pm. They will also be published in an anthology that will be available at the Turner Center by the end of the 2022/2023 school year.

The Turner Center launched YoWL in 2020 through grants received by the Georgia Council for the Arts and Guardian Bank. During its startup days, classes met at the Turner Center on Saturday mornings. The program, led by Dr. Cheryl Carvajal, now interfaces through an online, convenient platform and introduces the skill of writing as a means of healthy expression.

“Our online platform allows students to access the activities and prompts, and even share their work online, without needing to attend meetings face-to-face,” Carvajal said. “They can access all the writing resources from their cell phones, personal computers, or tablets for free.”

Carvajal draws on her success as an author to help youth express themselves through the written word, perfect their writing skills, and pursue authorship. Participants receive weekly writing prompts, constructive feedback from both the instructor and YoWL peers, and assistance with the development of writing style, voice, plot, dialogue, and more. With enough youth interest, organizers will begin planning YoWL meetings that meet at the Turner Center in the near future.

“Nothing is more rewarding than helping young people develop their abilities to express themselves within a safe and supportive environment, while also helping them develop a respectable skill that supports countless career pathways,” said Turner Center for the Arts Executive Director Sementha Mathews.

For contest details, download the free Discord app from any mobile App store or click HERE to learn more . No fees are required to participate in YoWL or to submit entries for the “Art of Writing” contest. Call 229-247-2787 for more information.