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Local grade seven student wins big for charity with her poetry

Thirteen-year-old Cora Arvidson named the Kids Write 4 Kids national contest champion.
Cora Arvidson
Cora Arvidson won the Kids Write 4 Kids contest with her poetry collection, Threads.

Vancouver's Cora Arvidson didn't plan to submit her work to Ripple Foundation's Kids Write 4 Kids Creative Contest, let alone come first place. But when her grade seven teacher asked the class to apply, she provided a collection of her poetry and was chosen as the best writer out of 581 contestants.

Now her work, entitled Threads, will be published digitally and in print with all proceeds going to a charity of her choice, the Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada.

A student at Sir William Osler Elementary School, Arvidson says that she has always loved writing but this experience was her first time trying to put pen to paper with regimented regularity. The resulting work, Threads, explores human connection as a tangible thing stretching across borders and throughout history. It examines connection, consciousness and youth all while remaining curious yet cautious of being adrift in a large world.

"I became interested in how everything became so abstract in the ways that we were connected during the pandemic," she says. "Maybe it's the size of the world or maybe it's something else—but sometimes you feel connected and sometimes you feel like a tiny little speck."

It was these sentiments that must have stood out to the panel of 12 judges comprised of professional editors, past contest winners, poets, illustrators, and more. Each judge reads every submission blindly and enters a score of one to 10 in an online matrix that spits out the big winner.

Poetry contest a "feel-good project come to life," says founder

This process was developed over many years with the help of Ivy Wong, founder of the Ripple Foundation. Wong started the Ripple Foundation and writing contest ten years ago as a way to give back to her community and foster creativity in Canada's youth.

"I feel that the future generation is all about the kids," Wong says. "I wanted to create something lighthearted ... I'm not trying to save the world, just to make a feel-good project come to life."

In addition to the writing contest, Ripple Foundation offers virtual writing workshops, blogging opportunities, and they are launching their first conference this fall. Express Inspire Connect is fully online and for students in grades 4–12. They will offer workshops and round tables on myriad topics from songwriting to resume writing.

Wong says that recognizing budding writers and creative talent in kids encourages them to continue their creative pursuits. As the benificiary of Wong's efforts, Arvidson agrees.

"I don't know where I'll be in 10 years but it will definitely have something to do with words. This project has been so great," says Arvidson.

While she might not know where she'll be in 2032, now-award winning author Arvidson has some words of wisdom (and book reccomendations!) for her fellow aspiring writers.

"Read more than just what you're comfortable with. Read books from history, books that were considered great. That can help you think about what you want to say."

Some of her faves include Howl by Allen Ginsberg, anything by Maya Angelou, and Patrick deWitt's Undermajordomo Minor. Arvidson's aunts (and big time fans) recently sent her a stack of 30 books so you know what she'll be doing this summer!

Congratulations Cora.