Find a Location
Become a Member
PHONE HOTLINE: (703) 455-3986 E-MAIL:
Find a Location
Become a Member

Art & Essay Contest

Art & Essay Contest

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

2021 Art & Essay Winners

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

2021 Art & Essay Winners

Art Category

  • Ages 6-7: Kate Anderson, United States Air Force
  • Ages 8-9: Evelyn Diddams, United States Marine Corps
  • Ages 10-12: Livie Church, United States Army

Essay Category

  • Ages 6-7: Grayson West, United States Army
  • Ages 8-9: Luke Anderson, United States Air Force
  • Ages 10-11: Charlie Anderson, United States Air Force
  • Ages 12-13: Katalina Burris, United States Navy
  • Ages 14-16: Elise Riedinger, United States Army
  • Ages 17-18: Ryan Doucette, United States Coast Guard

View All Submissions


Program Overview

The 2021 annual contest submission period opens January 21, and runs through March 31. 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. 

2021 Theme: “How has COVID-19 impacted me and my military family?”

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 and National Guard/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 and National Guard/Reserves.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is eligible to enter the contest?

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.

How can I enter the Art and Essay Contest

For 2021, the ASYMCA is using 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.

Submit an Entry

Are there any rules as to what type of art can be submitted? 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 artisitic 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!
Are there any rules for the Essays? Essays should be no more than 500 words, and submitted in either .doc, .docx, .rtf, or .txt formats. Outside of these parameters, children have creative licenece in how they express themselves using the written word. Poetry, narratives, short stories, or traditional essays are all wonderful ways to tell a story. 
What type of file should I upload?

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

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

What happens to the information I submit? The ASYMCA will collect your information for the purposes of this contest, which will include judging, awards, and digital publication of all submissions. You can see last year's publication by clicking the button at the bottom of this page.

The ASYMCA will not share or sell submitted information to 3rd parties.
What if I have more questions? 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.

2020 Contest Winners

Art Winners

  • U.S. Army - Ruth Grim
  • U.S. Navy - Bella Zieroth
  • U.S. Air Force - Kayele Pollard
  • U.S. Marine Corps - Ariana-Jahazara D. Mather
  • U.S. Coast Guard - Claire Davis

Essay Winners

  • Lauren Peralta, Grade 3/4
  • Audrey Peralta, Grade 4/5
  • Marisol Anastasia Wentling, Grade 9/10

Congratulations to all of our winners!

View the 2020 Participant Book
Art & Essay Booklet