The 10-year-old daughter of Adèle and Vernon Anderson has a story, “A Mermaid Lives Her Dreams”, in the 115-page anthology called To Grow a Writer 2020.
“Let Love grow!” said Jessie, about her story, which was inspired by Hans Christian Anderson’s “The Little Mermaid”.
“My grandmother told me about the contest,” she said, “and she encouraged me to participate.”
Jessie's story is one of 23 winning entries in the Grow A Writer contest co-launched last year by the Ottawa Police Blues FC and Baico Publishing Ltd. As the dedication inside the book by Sgt. Devon Archer explains "the contest was launched to help our youth stay focused, positive and creative during a time when everything around us seemed so uncertain and at times scary."
Once the anthology was printed in March this year an Ottawa police officer hand delivered a copy of the book to each of the contest winners. Jessie said she was quite surprised when Sgt. Archer himself arrived at her house, presented her with a book and congratulated her. She’s already started working on another mermaid story.
While Jessie writes well enough to be one of the contest winners and has also written songs, that's not what she wants to do when she grows up. Her goal is to become a singer and she has already taken steps to achieve that dream. She studies singing at Sing House and has even performed on stage at the Shenkman Center.
Young writers wanted
Sgt. Archer is involved with Ottawa police community outreach programs, including the Ottawa Police Blues FC, which helps build positive relationships with local youth through mentorship, education, sports and social interactions. Also assisting with this endeavour and others are people from frontline services like paramedics, correctional officers and special constables.
Baico Publishing Ltd., the company that co-produced the book, was founded in 1997 by Raymond Coderre. The company first operated in Gatineau but is now located at 280 Albert Street in Ottawa and although strictly adhering to COVID restrictions, is still open for business. The driving force behind Baico's involvement in the writing contest is the company's vice-president, Stephanie Bertrand-Akimov. She echoed what Sgt. Archer wrote, adding, "We want to make a positive imprint on the youth in our company. The purpose of the Grow a Writer contest is to encourage children to be creative while staying safe during this pandemic, and have a unique outlet to express themselves."
The 2020 Grow a Writer contest was so successful that all books printed so far are selling fast. Organizers have decided to hold a second contest. The 2021 contest deadline for submissions from young people aged 8-16, is October.
Like last year, all proceeds from book sales will go back to the community in the form of an educational scholarship. Anyone who would like to submit a story to the 2021 Grow A Writer contest can find more information at https://www.facebook.com/BaicoPublishing.
Copies of the first anthology are $20 each and orders can be placed either at http://www.facebook.com/BaicoPublishing.com or to https://www.ottawabluescharityclassic.ca/index2.pho!/Grow_A_Writer.