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May 18, 2021 11:27:54 AM

Armed Services YMCA 2021 Art & Essay Contest

Annual Contest Allows Children to Express a Military Family Lifestyle

The Armed Services YMCA is happy to announce the results of the 2021 Art & Essay Contest. The annual contest is open to children grades 1-12 of active duty or retired members of the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Coast Guard and National Guard/Reserves.

Military children communicating through artistic expression:

While most recognize the strength and sacrifice of the service member, few recognize the family effort. The Armed Services YMCA recognizes the contributions of service members, spouses, and children that make up our military family.

The Art Contest is specifically for children in grades 1-6, while children in grades 1-12 are encouraged to participate in the Essay Contest. Winners were selected based on age ranges. This year’s theme was “How COVID-19 Affected My Military Family.”

Art Category

  • Ages 6-7: Kate Anderson, Virginia, United States Air Force. Kate explores her options for COVID-safe outdoor play while in the midst of a move to a new military base.
  • Ages 8-9: Evelyn Diddams, Overseas, United States Marine Corps. Evelyn reveals her sadness with the restrictions of a COVID world in contrast to her life before the pandemic.
  • Ages 10-12: Livie Church, North Carolina, United States Army. Livie highlights the struggles of adjusting to virtual learning while embracing the opportunity for extra family time and outdoor play.

Essay Category

  • Ages 6-7: Grayson West, Texas, United States Army. Grayson shares the highs and lows of his family’s experience with the pandemic.
  • Ages 8-9: Luke Anderson, Virginia, United States Air Force. Luke expresses his positive outlook through poetry that captures the bright side of his family’s pandemic experience.
  • Ages 10-11: Charlie Anderson, Virginia, United States Air Force. Charlie uses rhyme to express the challenges and frustrations of the pandemic.
  • Ages 12-13: Katalina Burris, Rhode Island, United States Navy. Katalina shares her family’s harrowing journey of COVID striking close to home, and the positive lessons she learned from the experience.
  • Ages 14-16: Elise Riedinger, Overseas, United States Army. Elise takes deep dive into the heart through poetry, sharing the struggles and sacrifices of military service on her family.
  • Ages 17-18: Ryan Doucette, Massachusetts, United States Coast Guard. Ryan shares the effect of COVID on his family, and how it has brought the important things in life into focus.


Vice Admiral William French President and CEO of the ASYMCA said: “The ASYMCA Art & Essay contest shines a spotlight on the children of our military families. Military children face very unique challenges. The contest is an opportunity for them to voice their stories while helping others understand their experience and recognize their resiliency.”

According to the Department of Defense, military children move an average of “six to nine times during a school career.” In addition to a parent’s deployment, their lifestyle may present many unique challenges including separation from family, no consistent community and learning loss due to continual moves. The ASYMCA Art & Essay Contest encourages military children to communicate their perspective through art and writing. The ASYMCA is proud to share this opportunity with the public in acknowledgement of our military children’s sacrifices and resiliency.

Art & Essay Contest Information:

To view the all the 2021 Art & Essay Contest submissions click here.

About Armed Services YMCA:

The Armed Services YMCA (ASYMCA) is the oldest military support organization in the United States, founded in 1861. The ASYMCA's mission enhances the lives of active duty junior enlisted military members and their families in spirit, mind and body through programs relevant to the unique challenges of military life. In 2020, the ASYMCA engaged nearly 150,000 individuals and delivered more than 500,000 points of service through its 12 Branches and 24 Affiliate Partners, serving 87 military installations across the U.S. To learn more about how the ASYMCA is "Strengthening Our Military Family(R)" visit