Opportunity for young writers to pen short story for Good Friday Agreement conference

The global competition is offering children the chance to represent Northern Ireland at the 20th anniversary event taking place next April

(L-R) Glenwood Primary’s Carter Loughlin and Madison Mckeown, their teacher, Miss O’Hanlon, and Myra Zepf, Northern Ireland’s first Children’s Writing Fellow

A global story-writing competition is calling for young people to pen original tales around the subject of 'Peace', to be presented at a conference marking the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement in Belfast next year.

Open to children aged 7-14, the Commonwealth Class Short Story Writing Competition is to be judged by Northern Ireland’s first Children’s Writing Fellow, Myra Zepf, who is based at Queen’s University Belfast.

The competition, a partnership between the British Council and the Commonwealth Secretariat, aims to celebrate the values of the Commonwealth by tying in with its theme of peace. The winning entry from Northern Ireland will then be invited to present their story at the Peace and Beyond international conference in April 2018.

Participants must write a story set in their own country and can enter in one of two age categories. The deadline for entries is 9.00am on January 2 2018. Those thinking of taking part can finda host of creative writing tips from Zepf to help them get started here.

'This is a really exciting opportunity for local children to be part of a competition that literally spans the globe,' she said. 'We're famous for our story-telling abilities in this part of the world, so this is our chance to put Northern Ireland on the map. A competition like this provides a great impetus for children to put pen to paper and to exercise their imaginations.


'As Children's Writing Fellow for Northern Ireland, I am on a sworn mission to get kids writing their own stories, so I am honoured and excited to be judging this competition. The theme of 'Peace' is a powerful and deeply-inspiring creative springboard which can be interpreted in so many ways. I really looking forward to reading the finished stories from all over the Commonwealth and to seeing the different narratives that this theme inspired in children.'

Jonathan Stewart, Deputy Director, British Council Northern Ireland, said: 'This competition is an excellent way for students through education and creative writing, to think deeply and creatively about what peace means to them and the value of celebrating our diversities and differences.

'The competition falls in line with our interest in arts, education and international peace-building and we are delighted to link it up with Peace and Beyond, an international conference to mark the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday/Belfast Agreement – which will reflect upon the experiences of peace processes and everyday peace building models form across the globe, as well as look forward and inspire innovative thinking in the field of peacebuilding.'

Teachers also have a chance to take part with a separate competition – for teachers writing for children. The deadline for this is 9:00am on February 12 2018.

Commonwealth Class is a joint project between the Commonwealth Secretariat and the British Council. It has been running since 2013 and has already reached over 120,000 schools. The project aims to educate children aged 7-14 about the values and principles of the Commonwealth and to increase understanding about the lives of young people in other countries. It encourages students to collaborate and learn together, and consider how they can be more active and responsible global citizens.

Registration for the Peace and Beyond conference is also now open. For more information visit: www.britishcouncil.org/peace-and-beyond.