Listen to a Life Contest

Markham Public Library is happy to be a community collaborator in the 7-Generation Markham initiative. This initiative fosters intergenerational connections and activities for people of all ages. To find out more about the project, check out the 7-Generation Markham website

The concept of 7-Generation thinking is an important cornerstone in many Indigenous worldviews, where we can think about the generations that came before us, and also remember that we are now shaping the world that will exist for seven generations beyond us. By learning from each other we can work together to make the world a better place for all of us.

The Legacy Project is launching the 22nd annual "Listen to a Life Story Contest", closing on April 15. The contest is open to young writers from 8 - 18 who engage with a non-parental person aged 50 and over to create a writing project. 

In a time when distance is the norm, take the time to sit down with someone (even over Zoom or on the phone) and get closer through sharing stories and creating memories together. 

Participants will need to:


Read the contest rules and some past winning essays to get an idea of what the judges are looking for from your short, 300-word essay. 


There are so many ways to interview someone, but a lot of it comes down to quality time and having a conversation. For some people, conversation might come easily, but other people might need an activity to get started. Here are some ideas for activities:

  1. Create a simple family Tree
  2. Ask older adults "What Would You Change"
  3. Work together to create a "Life List". What has the older person done in their life, and what does the younger person hope to accomplish?
  4.  Share one thing each person would do to make their community a better place
  5. Talk about "Big Picture Stories" and the ways that large historical events impact the stories of our lives. 

& Write

At last, the writing portion! In just 300 words the judges are looking for pieces that capture a moment, theme, or important experience.  With 300 words it is important to make every word count and to think carefully about the story!

All stories must be true and have excellent writing quality, content, and seek to capture a timeless idea based on the lived experiences of an older person. 


All contests have prizes! One Grand Prize Timeless Award winner receives a beauitful keepsake art piece from Cedar Lake Studios, opens a new window – which offers a curated selection of finely-crafted, unique, inspired art and gifts created by Canadian artisans – along with $100 cash. 7 Legacy Awards receive a keepsake cedar mini chest. All winners also receive a framed award certificate and an autographed copy of Dream, an award-winning bestseller about hopes and dreams across a lifetime, through history, and into the future.

Looking for Inspiration?

Take a look at our reading list full of inter-generational stories that includes picture books up to YA novels to jump start your creativity.

Inter-Generational Stories

List created by MPLMallory

Looking for inspiration for the Listen to a Life story contest or just to connect with different generations? Check out our top picks!

View Full List