A school-age girl paints a cheerful picture on paper clipped to an easel

Art & Essay Contest

Giving Military Children a Voice

The annual Armed Services YMCA Art & Essay Contest gives military children a voice. It also serves as a reminder of the sacrifices military children, service members, and their families make for our country

2023 Contest Winners

The Art Contest is specifically for children grades 1-6. Winners were selected based on age range and received a Kindle Fire tablet. The theme for 2023 was “The Winds of Change.”

Art Category

  • Ages 7-8: Evelyn Eskam, United States Marine Corps
  • Ages 9-10: Luke Roberson, United States Navy
  • Ages 11-12: Zoie Roberson, United States Navy

Children grades 1-12 are encouraged to participate in the Essay Contest. Winners were selected based on age ranges, and received a Kindle Fire tablet. The theme for 2023 was “The Winds of Change.”

Essay Category

  • Ages 6-7: Maddy Peterson, United States Marine Corps
  • Ages 8-9: Mason Wolf, United States Air Force
  • Ages 10-12: Evelyn Diddams, United States Marines Corps
  • Ages 13-14: Sydney Morgan, United States Marines Corps
  • Ages 15-16: Alyss Valerio, United States Marines Corps
  • Ages 17-18: Steve Muro Jr, United States Air Force

2023 Creative Submissions

2023 Winners' Submissions

Download the booklet of this year's Art & Essay Winners' submissions

Download PDF

2023 All Participants' Submissions

Download the complete booklet of all this year's Art & Essay submissions

Download PDF

Program Overview

The 2023 annual contest submission period opens February 17, and runs through April 7. Winners will be announced at the end of April in honor of the Month of the Military Child. Entries may be submitted from military children living in the U.S. and abroad.

2023 Theme: “Winds of Change”

Like the dandelion, military kids go where the wind blows them and grow where they land. This year we ask military children: How do you fly on the “Winds of Change?” 

Art Contest

The art contest promotes art among military children in grades 1–6 of active duty or retired (with 20+ years of service) members of the Armed Services, National Guard, or Reserves.

Essay Contest

The contest encourages military children to use creative writing to express themselves. The essay contest is open to military children in grades 1–12 of active duty or retired (with 20+ years of service) members of the Armed Services, National Guard, or Reserves.

Frequently Asked Questions

The Art and Essay contest is open to children of currently serving military (active duty, National Guard, or reserves) and retired service members (with 20+ years of service).

Artwork submissions are limited to children in grades 1 through 6.

Essay submissions are open to children in grades 1 through 12.

The ASYMCA uses an online submission process. Eligible participants can click the link to “Submit an Entry.” The entry form is in two parts: the first part collects the child’s information and includes a button to upload their submission; the second part collects information about their military sponsor.

During the submission period, you will find the link to the submission form at the bottom of this webpage.

Since all artwork will be submitted through an online portal, you will need to photograph or scan the art. This means there are no limitations on the size or type of art. Children can use any artistic medium of their choice, or even mix mediums to create unique works. Art can be flat, or dimensional. Your child is limited only by their imagination!

Essays should be no more than 500 words, related to the theme provided, and submitted in either .doc, .docx, .rtf, or .txt formats. Outside of these parameters, children have creative license in how they express themselves using the written word. Poetry, narratives, short stories, or traditional essays are all wonderful ways to tell a story.

For artwork, you can upload a pdf, png, or jpeg file.

For essays, you can upload .doc, .docx, .rtf, or .txt files.

The ASYMCA will collect your information for the purposes of this contest, which will include judging, awards, and digital publication of all submissions.

The ASYMCA will not sell or share your personal contact information to 3rd parties for the purpose of solicitation, but we will share limited information for the purposes of shipping prizes and for creating awareness (website, social media, printed collateral, etc). The limited information we share in regard to awareness usually includes the child’s name, age, service branch, and their submitted creative work.

For an example of how submitted info and works are shared, please see the 2023 Winners section above, which includes links to the most recent digital publication.

The Armed Services YMCA will award a Kindle Fire tablet to one child from each category and age range:

  • Art, Age 6-7
  • Art, Age 8-9
  • Art, Age 10-12
  • Essay, Age 6-7
  • Essay, Age 8-9
  • Essay, Age 10-12
  • Essay, Age 13-14
  • Essay, Age 15-16
  • Essay, Age 17-18

We’re happy to answer any questions you might have! You can email us here if you need more information, or clarification on the information provided.

Submit your creative work

The 2023 submission period took place between February 17 and April 7. Submissions for this year's art and Essay Contest are currently closed, but we look forward to seeing your creative works next year!