"The Derby is a wonderful initiative encouraging youth of Ontario to express themselves, engage and celebrate in the wonderful world of horses." Said Gayle Ecker, director of Equine Guelph. "As an enthusiastic partner in the promotion of the Youth Literary Derby and a strong supporter of education for budding horse enthusiasts, Equine Guelph is pleased to provide online Horse Behaviour and Safety courses for the winners of the Youth Literary Derby."
Equine Guelph, well known for their support of the grass roots of the horse industry with their award-winning travelling display, EquiMania, recently added a short course for youth 14 – 17 years old: Horse Behaviour and Safety. "We hope the Derby winners will enjoy furthering their interest in horses and learning the language of the horse during this highly interactive course." Ecker continued.
Harness racing legend and Hambletonian Society president, John Campbell weighs in on the Literary Derby:
"I read with great interest about the Youth Literary initiative being implemented in Ontario. I believe that exposing children to horses and the excitement of seeing and being around newborn foals will result in some incredible stories from these children. Some of these kids might not know it now but after being around and interacting with these horses their lives will be changed. It will be the beginning of a lifetime love affair as horses are addictive; they make an impression on you and are good for the soul.
The project really hit home for me as I have always been an avid reader and feel that even though technology and the way we learn has changed, we should encourage children to read, write and express themselves through literature as much as possible. I have seen firsthand the anticipation and excitement that you see on a child's face when they receive a new book. In addition, my daughter Michelle is involved with KPMG'S Family Literacy program whose mission is to provide new books and educational resources to children in need. As you can see, giving back is a family affair."
Standardbreds in the classroom
"As an elementary teacher at a rural school I have found the Youth Literary Derby to be a great way to connect students with the Standardbred industry." said Trena Lebedz of the Aldborough Public School in Rodney Ontario.
"I look forward to allowing more students the opportunity to share their knowledge and love for horses by including the program in my classes as part of the curriculum" she said. "We are currently learning about the different types of poems, which will be used to create a poetic piece for the contest."
Trena Lebedz comes by her love of horses quite honestly. Her great grandfather, J. Russell Miller, was an astute, successful horseman who owned, trained and bred many outstanding Standardbreds for more than four decades. From the St. John French Immersion Catholic Elementary School in London, Ont., "It's (The Youth Literary Derby) a good idea and can work well with our curriculum."
"Foals are a fantastic subject for any story. Whether its penmanship or horsemanship, we wish all of the contestants the best of luck and look forward to reading the winning poems and short stories" said Ontario Equestrian, Director , Tracey McCague-McElrea. Ontario Equestrian, is a partner in the promotion and support of the Youth Literary Derby, and is Ontario's provincial support organization for equestrians. It is committed to the highest standards of horse welfare advocacy and pursuits and represents 22,000 members from all sectors of the horse industry.
"Having students write poems and short stories about Standardbreds is fantastic. We should follow your lead and do something like this in the States." says Kimberly Rinker, Vice President of the United States Harness Writers Association. "What a great program and incentive to get youngsters involved or interested in harness racing."
The Youth Literary Derby is a horse-themed contest for Ontario students grades 5 – 8. It offers $2,000 in prize money and is designed to encourage writing and literacy skills and offers students the opportunity to visit Ontario Standardbred breeding farms during foaling season in April, through June and challenges them to create inspiring prose, or poetry about their close up encounters with Standardbred foals.
Entries close June 15th.
For complete contest details and a list of Ontario farms available for visiting before writing their entry, students are advised to visit: www.YouthLiteraryDerby.ca