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, open to middle and high school students in Valdosta, Lowndes County, and students throughout south Georgia and north Florida.

The contest will be hosted annually with a different theme each year that inspires young people to express themselves concerning important topics. The inaugural theme is “Living United” and is sponsored in part by the Valdosta United Way.

Cash prizes will be awarded to the top three winners in each category for both middle and high school levels, resulting in a total of $2,000 in awards to youth. The entry deadline is Friday, April 16, 2021. Winning submissions and all honorable mentions will be announced on May 3, 2021 and published in an anthology that will be available at the Turner Center in June 2021.

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 takes place in 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 everything from their cell phones, personal computers, or tablets, all 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.

“This contest stems from a collaboration of Turner Center and partner resources that are helping young people cope with COVID conditions and a multitude of life circumstances,” said Executive Director Sementha Mathews. “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.”

For contest details, download the free Discord app from any mobile App store or from the link provided at www.turnercenter.org/education. 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.