LISTEN/™ Dear Cancer: Teen Essay Contest 2019

Gilda's Club September 21, 2018

Creative expression allows us to think in new ways, confront difficult problems, and celebrate our own uniqueness. In 2016, Gilda’s Club Twin Cities launched an initiative called LISTEN/™ – an arts-based program to provide creative opportunities to elevate our members’ voices and a platform to share their story.

The journey started with LISTEN/™ Stories of Cancer told through Movement, Music, and Voice, a series of workshops and a performance created in partnership with Stuart Pimsler Dance & Theater. Twin Cities Public Television documented the process and produced a 26-minute documentary called LISTEN/Stories of Cancer and Resilience – that aired in February 2018 and was recently nominated for an Upper Midwest EMMY. Watch the documentary here. The next phase in this initiative, we are finding ways to elevate the voices of younger generations – voices not often heard in the cancer story – and provide opportunities to share their unique prospective on cancer has impacted their lives.

Gilda’s Club Twin Cities is launching LISTEN/™ Dear Cancer – a teen creative writing/essay contest that elevates the voices of teens impacted by cancer. Eligible participants are middle and high school teens (ages 13-19) impacted by cancer, either through their own diagnosis or through a friend or family member. Essays must be in original voice – reflecting personal experience with cancer – insights, original thoughts, lessons learned, and individual character. Read the rules and eligibility requirements here.

To help provide the tools for self-expression, Gilda’s Club has partnered with The Loft Literary Center for a series of teen writing workshops. Roxanne Sadovsky will bring her experience teaching Intuitive Writing and the Healing Memoir at the Loft to lead these evening workshops. Roxanne has a masters in counseling psychology and creative nonfiction and believes through the creative process, individuals can connect to their internal wisdom and discover what they need to live a more fully alive, present, meaningful, and spontaneous life.

No previous writing experience is necessary to participate in the workshops or the essay contest. All teens between ages 13-19 are welcome even if this is your first time connecting with Gilda’s Club.

How To Enter

Read the rules and eligibility requirements here.
We are offering FREE writing workshops at Gilda’s Club Twin Cities to help you compose your essay, in collaboration with The Loft Literary Center:

• for Teens in Middle School on October 18 & 25
• for Teens in High School on November 8 & 15

Once you have written a 500-2,000 word essay, SUBMIT YOUR ESSAY HERE by midnight on December 31, 2018.
Plan on attending a recognition ceremony for ALL entrants on Monday, March 18, 2019 from 6-7:30pm.

Prizes & Categories:

1st, 2nd and 3rd place awards for both middle school and high school teens in the following two categories:

• Teens living with cancer or survivors
• Teens who have/had a family member or friend living with cancer or who has died

1st – Laptop valued around $1,500
2nd – iPad valued around $750
3rd – Best Buy gift card for $250

2018 Panel of Celebrity Judges:

Cathy Wurzer
Journalist, author, host of Twin Cities Public Television Almanac and Minnesota Public Radio Morning Edition

Award-winning columnist with St. Paul Pioneer Press and formerly New York Daily. Married father of two & living with multiple myeloma

Keno Evol
Poet, essayist, spoken word artist, educator, activist, founder/ED Black Table Arts, winner 2017 Sonia Sanchez-Langston Hughes Poetry Contest

Alli Shoemaker
Writer, mom, childhood cancer advocate, sister of Zach Sobiech who lived with osteosarcoma and wrote the hit song “Clouds”

Kenzie Fronek
2018 Eden Prairie HS grad, founder of AdvoKate childhood cancer awareness event, studying nursing to honor her sister Kate