Kids in grades 4, 5, and 6 are encouraged to enter poems or short essays in Habitat for Humanity's Meaning of Home Contest.

Vice President of Regional Development Steve Krahn says this is the 17th year they have run the contest.

"It is an opportunity for students in those grades, 4,5, and 6 to submit a poem or a short essay about what home means to them. It is an opportunity for kids to think a little bit more about shelter and their houses and to implement some critical thinking."

Krahn says this topic is more relevant now than it has ever been as kids have experience doing school from home in the last two years. He notes “Learning from their homes, they realize how important it is to have a safe, decent, affordable place to live.”

Manitoba normally pulls its weight in this national contest, in fact, Krahn says the province set a new record last year as Habitat Manitoba submitted 2,500 entries. He adds the submissions are always inspiring.

"They are just amazing and some break your heart when they share some sort of detail of perhaps some difficult things that they are going through and others are really hope-inspiring. All of them are really inspirational especially when you think of young people putting their thoughts and creativity toward what housing means to them. It is really neat to see."

Of course, being a contest, Krahn says there is a competitive side and prizes.

"The winning entry from each grade wins $30,000 to be allocated to the Habitat for Humanity of their choice and typically the winners allocate that to their local habitat. So if a student in a Steinbach school, for example, was to be the grand-prize winning entrant, they would have the option of having that money allocated to building a home right in their community."

The grand prize entrant also wins an Ipad. The runner-up in each grade gets $10,000 to allocate to the habitat of their choice and each entry that is submitted results in a $10 donation to the organization. Krahn says all of this money comes from their contest sponsors.

Krahn says they encourage schools and teachers to get involved and even provide some curriculum to go along with the contest. Finally, he notes if the winner participated in school, their class also wins a pizza party.