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500 Words: Black Lives Matter
24 June 2020
We are delighted to be supporting the new 500 Words competition, which invites children of all ethnicities and backgrounds in the UK, to submit short creative writing pieces that express personal experience, empathy, learning, and respect, building on the international conversation around Black Lives Matter.
500 Words is the UK’s most successful short story-writing competition for children between the ages of five and 13. The competition was originally devised by UK TV and radio presenter Chris Evans, and first launched in 2011. All children, no matter what their ability, experience, or background, could take part and pen an original story, no more than 500 words in length, and submit it online. Since then, more than one million stories have been entered and the competition recently celebrated its tenth anniversary and final year with the BBC on 12 June 2020. However, the 500 Words story doesn’t end there.
The new version of the competition is supported by celebrities from across sport, film, television, music, literature and more, as well as a range of publishers including OUP who will continue to analyse the language in the entries. The competition intends to encourage important conversations on the themes and issues emerging from the Black Lives Matter movement around the world, while encouraging children to tap into their own creativity and imagination, using storytelling to share their experience and understanding of how different ethnicities and cultures interact.
Children will be able to submit their work from Monday 29th June with a deadline of Friday 3rd July. All submissions will be reviewed by a panel of professional readers, up until the semi-finals take place live on air from 13–16 July. Winners will be invited to join Chris Evans on the Virgin Radio Breakfast Show on 17 July.
Helen Freeman, Director Children’s Dictionaries & Language Data at OUP, commented, ‘Oxford University Press is delighted to be supporting this latest 500 Words initiative, continuing our role as children’s language experts. Our analysis informs our understanding of how children use words to express their ideas in writing, which enables us to better support their learning.’
Chris Evans added: ‘500 Words has enabled children to stretch their creative writing skills for over ten years, with more than a million entries submitted. We’re excited to be able to continue the initiative with a focus on encouraging children to write stories with their own voices, not filtered by the thoughts of adults.’