Narrative with social justice bent selected for WriteOn anthology

19 September 2019

Meriden Junior School student, Olivia Kim, was tasked with writing a narrative inspired by a picture of hats. She carefully crafted a story with a homeless protagonist and a hopeful message that all people are unique and should be valued, rather than judged. The piece has been applauded by a panel of experienced judges at the NSW Education Standard Authority and Olivia will soon be a published author.

Olivia’s work has been selected to feature in The Best of WriteOn 2019 which is published by NESA. Her story was assessed based on its structure and language as well as its emotiveness and creativity.

Olivia said she was excited to hear of her official literary debut.

“I feel very proud that my story is being published and I feel privileged to be representing my school. I’m glad that I can send a message through words and stories,” she said.

For Olivia, whose favourite books include the allegorical Chronicles of Narnia, stories should have emotional impact and a message for the reader.

“I chose to make my character homeless at the beginning of my story because homelessness is an important issue to me,” she said.

“It’s sad to realise that people live on the streets, especially when it’s cold and windy. It’s just unfair for a human being to be denied their right to a home and to be neglected by society.”

Olivia enjoys the creative freedom that writing provides.

“I like that writing is like art: there’s no right or wrong – mostly! At school, I can be given a writing task with a strict criteria but my work will still be completely different to my friend’s end result. Each person’s writing is unique and original, and that’s what makes it special,” Olivia said.

WriteOn is an annual writing competition open to all NSW primary students in Years 1 to 6.

Read the opening of Olivia’s winning narrative below.

I’m used to it. I kept telling myself, but I wasn’t, and I knew it. Each disgusted grimace, each ignoring step further away, each pitiful glance hit me right in the middle, right in the heart. No one wanted to accept the truth, the truth that our society had become so ignorant to the fact that people were homeless. People are beggars and they’re doing nothing to change it. I was worthless to them. I was a nobody. No one except a beggar, stooping on their hands and knees for help.

In front of me lay a hat. One that was made of fabric so soft and colours more vibrant than a rainbow. One that was so intricately and carefully designed that one would wonder how it ended up in a homeless man’s hands. This hat was my only prized possession, my only artefact to remind me of what life was like before. Before I was dumped out on the streets, left to fend for myself. This hat meant everything to me.