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4 winners in national student writing contest win $80,000 for Habitat GTA

Two grand prize winners and two runners up from GTA win for sharing what home means to them

The Meaning of Home is a national writing contest in support of Habitat for Humanity Canada that asks students in Grade 4, 5, and 6 to share what home means to them. Over 10,200 students entered this year’s Meaning of Home contest, which sets a new record. Two of the three grand prize winners this year are from Toronto. The Grade 6 grand prize winner is Nyra Calamiong. She joins Ines Casanova, who is the Grade 4 grand prize winner. Nathalie Zhou is a Grade 6 runner up from Richmond Hill and Christopher Valdes is a Grade 4 runner up from Toronto. Each winner won a $30,000 grant and each runner up won a $10,000 grant for a total of $80,000 that will help build affordable housing for families in need of a decent place to live in the GTA.

Here are the submissions from the winners.

1st place winner: Ines Casanova, grade 4

Home. The endless possibilities.

I turn the key to open the door.
It seems quite simple but there’s so much more.
This home of mine is full of happiness and love.
It’s like a wonderful blessing from above.
My home is more than a roof and four walls.
It’s where I’ve learned to get up when I fall.
The foundation of my home is stable and strong.
It’s where I’ve learned important lessons when I have done something wrong.

The fireplace in my home helps keep me warm.
And my mom’s soft voice shelters me from the storm.
In hard times, her tight embrace takes the tears off my face.
A smile comes upon me, the tears it will replace.

It’s not just the working lights that make my house so bright.
But all the wonderful memories I hold onto very tight.
My home is very special and truly unique
And the friendly, loving faces inside it make my life complete

Everyone deserves a home.
A place that they can call their own.
A place where they can take risks and explore opportunities.
A place where they feel safe and where hope never ends.
Everyone deserves a home just like mine!

1st place winner: Nyra Calamiong, grade 6

My home is the Most Important Place to Me.

My home is a safe place to stay,
Where my family loves me in every way.
Playing games happily,
Bonding together with friends and family.
My home is my favourite place
Where I have my very own space

I am very grateful to have somewhere safe to stay,
Where I can rely on my family any day.

When I think of home,
I think of not being alone.
A place where I have grown
Where I have become the person I am today

A home is somewhere to stay
A place where you can eat yummy food your family makes every day
Bonding together with your family
Playing with my brother happily

Some people don’t have somewhere nice to stay,
Living in the hot and cold it’s sad to say.
They don’t have someone to rely on,
When it’s cold and they are alone.

Charities and foundations making a change,
By asking people to write words on a page.
When I write this poem for all to see,
I am helping someone make a house for people to live and somewhere to be.

We should all try to make a change
To help make a safe place for someone
By writing about what home means to you,
It can make you happy too.
When seeing the smile on their face,
A place/home where you belong no matter what race.

“So often, we underestimate the power of a safe, decent place to live and we also underestimate the voices of our children and young people”, said Ene Underwood, CEO of Habitat for Humanity GTA. “The Meaning of Home contest enabled over 800 GTA students to inspire all of us about the vital role of home and in the process, generated a big win of over $80,000 in funds to help us build more safe, decent homes for kids like them. On behalf of our Habitat community, we want to thank all of the students and teachers that participated this year, and the contest’s founding sponsor, Genworth Canada”

During a time when many local Habitats are struggling with the financial impact from COVID-19 on their operations, this contest helped raise over $280,000. These much-needed funds will go towards building homes for families in need of a safe and secure place to call home across the country.

The Meaning of Home contest would not be possible without the generous support of founding sponsor, Genworth Canada.

“I’d like to congratulate each of the contest winners and thank all the students who submitted entries on what home means to them. Since 2007, the Meaning of Home contest has been empowering youth to become engaged and compassionate members of the community while educating them on the importance of affordable housing. We’re proud to be a founding sponsor of this initiative,” said Stuart Levings, President and CEO, Genworth Canada.

In addition to the support of founding sponsor Genworth Canada, the Meaning of Home contest would not have been possible without the support of awards sponsor, Revera Inc. and judging sponsor, The Silver Hotel Group.

For a complete list of winners and to read the winning entries, please visit meaningofhome.ca/winners-2020/.

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