The winner of this year’s Diverse Minds Youth Writing Challenge in southern New Jersey is “Lilly & Sully” written and illustrated by Julia Mallon from Kingsway Regional High School in Mount Royal, N.J. Diverse Minds is a contest where high school students write and illustrate children’s books to help elementary school children celebrate tolerance and diversity. Mallon was announced the winner at an award ceremony at Stockton University in the Kramer Hall Art Gallery on May 27.
> Click here to read "Lilly & Sully" and the other placing entries
This education and awareness initiative was created as part of B’nai B’rith programming that promotes tolerance and communicates a message of equality among all citizens. Funded by Atlantic City Electric, the contest aims to enlighten, inspire and educate America's young people and their families in an effort to eradicate prejudices and strengthen ties among today’s youth.
In the wonderfully illustrated “Lilly & Sully,” Sully the brown bear is afraid no one will be interested in his tricks and games once Lilly the polar bear arrives at the zoo. After being introduced at the zoo, Lilly becomes insecure about her white fur after hearing the other animals mocking it. When Lilly and Sully finally talk about their insecurities, they realize those things don’t matter and push them aside to become a dynamic, entertaining team that crowds flock to see.
At the ceremony, the finalists and winners were congratulated by Vince Maione, president of Atlantic City Electric, a subsidiary of Pepco Holdings, Inc., and Mark D. Olshan, associate executive vice president of B’nai B’rith International.
“The people and communities we serve are important to us,” Maione said. “We strive to make a difference in the lives of others by providing safe and reliable service to our customers, helping to protect the environment and supporting various initiatives within our communities. We look forward to continuing to actively participate in our communities today and for years to come.”
Also at the ceremony, 2014 Diverse Minds southern New Jersey winner and current Stockton University student Mary Kate Donahue addressed the finalists, speaking about her experience with the program.
Second place winners Julia Benbassat, Adel Boyarsky and Sumayyah Jones from Cherry Hill High School East wrote and illustrated “What Are You?” and will share a $2,000 scholarship. Third place winners Phillip Devin Trieu and Emma Oehlers from Collingswood Senior High School, and Julie Williams Portland from Camden Catholic wrote and illustrated “Meet the Moon” and will share a $1,000 scholarship. In addition, Mallon’s teacher who oversaw the creation of the winning book will receive a $500 stipend to use for classroom or organizational materials. Kingsway Regional High School will also receive a $500 grant.
Over the last nine years, B’nai B’rith has published 27 original children’s books and awarded nearly $200,000 in college scholarships and grants. Thousands of these published books have also been donated to public schools and libraries around the country.
A diverse panel of judges from the worlds of education, the arts, business and government, along with B’nai B’rith International leaders, reviewed the submissions and selected the winners. Judges this year included: Fola Adebi, executive director of Wow! Science Camp; Michelle Gentek, Camden County freeholder; Albert B. Kelly, mayor of the city of Bridgeton; and Richard Stepura, interim executive superintendent of Cape May and Cumberland County schools.
B’nai B’rith has enjoyed working in conjunction with Atlantic City Electric in southern New Jersey for the second year in a row as a part of our expanded partnership with Pepco Holdings Inc. Because of this expanded partnership, B’nai B’rith also held the contest in Washington, D.C., and again in the Delmarva Peninsula, thanks to generous support from Pepco and Delmarva Power.