Loudoun Youth annual competition challenges students to step up in community

The first-place, $1,000 prize went to Briar Woods High School students Hannah Ratcliffe, Kelsey Clark and Allison Ball for their Charitable Act program to provide summer theater camps to underprivileged children. Courtesy Photo/YouthQuest Foundation

Loudoun Youth's 6th annual Step Up Loudoun Youth Competition officially began Oct. 1.

The competition challenges middle and high schoolers to highlight an issue or problem in their community and start a program to help resolve it.

"The youth in Loudoun County amaze and inspire me every year. The issues they tackle and the solutions they create and implement truly make a difference in our community, in their schools, and in their personal lives," said Jared Melvin, president and CEO of Loudoun Youth, in a news release. "Programs like Step Up remind us all of the issues surrounding us that are top of mind for our youth."

In March, student teams will present their project to the organization in hopes of winning the grand prize of $1,000. More than $2,500 in cash prizes will also be awarded to students.

The deadline to submit an entry to the competition is Dec. 18. Students who are interested can contact their school counselors or email Marianne Moore at Loudoun Youth (mmoore@loudounyouth.com).

Last year's winning team built a summer theatre camp for underprivileged children. There were 79 teams in the competition and 27 were selected for the final presentation. The projects featured a range of topics, including providing opportunities to at-risk youth, feeding the homeless, promoting STEM education for girls, personal health and safety.

"The Loudoun Youth Step Up Competition shows the impressive work that young people can do when they are challenged to make a meaningful contribution," Dr. Eric Williams, superintendent of Loudoun County Public Schools, said in prepared remarks. "When students work to make a difference, they truly own their work. They are incredibly engaged, persisting even when they face obstacles."

The Step Up Loudoun Youth Competition is an annual event funded by the YouthQuest Foundation. Loudoun Youth Inc., Loudoun County Parks, Recreation and Community Services partner with the Youth Advisory Council and Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) to host the competition, which will be held on March 29 at the LCPS Administration Building in Ashburn.

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