This contest is sponsored by Optimist International to give young people the opportunity to write about their own opinions regarding freedom. The approach can encompass a young person's own personal freedom, the freedom of their country or a more historical perspective of the struggles to obtain freedom by groups or countries. The topic selected each year is intended to give young people the room to develop their own views around a central idea. In addition to the opportunity for written expression, participants have the opportunity to win a college scholarship of up to $5,000! Each year over 1000 clubs participate in this contest.
HOW TO ENTER
Interested students submit essays on the pre-assigned topic to their local Optimist Club. The essays are judged at the club level, district level and at the International level.
The contest is open to students under age 19 as of December 31st of the current school year, and are also in the 10th to 12th grades.
"My Opinion of Freedom"
LENGTH OF ESSAY
400 - 500 words
1996/97 HIGH NOON OPTIMIST WINNING ESSAY
"FOLLOWING A DREAM TOWARDS FREEDOM"
By Greg Sluchinski
Prince Albert, Sask,Ca.
Sponsor P.A. High Noon Optimist Club
Freedom . Spoken aloud, it is a word that carries true power. Freedom is indisputably one of the most powerful ideals of mankind, one that is a significant driving force in our world. Those who have it, cherish it. Those who lack it, strive for it. Although it is only an idea, not something tangible, it is an idea that is as real as any material object on this world.
Freedom is subjective, because it holds different meanings for any individual person. For someone who has lived in a totalitarian state, freedom might imply being impeded by fear and being able to think and speak freely, without censorship. To someone who has spent time incarcerated , freedom could simply be the right to walk down the block to the corner store when they chose to. For some people, it is the possibility of turning their dreams of a better life into actuality. We each form our own interpretations for freedom from our individual lives and experiences.
Having spent my entire life living in Canada, a free democratic country, my ideas of freedom were not formed by persecution, oppression, incarceration , or any other great adversities. Yet freedom is still vitally important to me. It is the right to experience myself in my own fashion. Freedom gives me the right to experience all the joy and sorrow our world has to offer. It allows me to form my own opinions and ideals about the world without anyone condemning or persecuting me for these ideals. Above all, though, freedom is the right to chose my own destiny, and be able to make that destiny a reality. To dream and make those dreams come true.
That is the greatest gift of freedom: that it allows people to simply be who they want to be. It is possibly the greatest gift that can be given. Freedom is our most important right, a right no one should be able to take away from us. We have to honor and guard our freedom, be more vigilant and watchful for anything that might threaten it.
Unfortunately, nothing in this world is pure, even our freedom. We can never be completely free so long as people continue to be discriminated against because of our sex, race, colour or creed. We can never be completely free from outside influences upon how we feel, think and act. These influences come from not only the media, but also our friends and family, and they can be negative as well as positive. Although our freedom is not perfect, those of us in Canada have been blessed enough to be born into one of the sovereign countries in the world, one that offers immense personal autonomy. As long as I live in this great country that is Canada, no one will be allowed to take my freedom away from me.