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What matters to Sarah

YEAR six New Town Primary School student Sarah Heynes has been awarded one of the state’s top writing honours after winning the year five/six category for Tasmania in the Whitlam Institute’s ‘What Matters’ writing competition.

Inspired by Gough Whitlam’s commitment to involving young people in the shaping of Australia, the annual competition asks students in years five to 12 to write a short essay on what matters to them, their family, community, country and world.

Sarah’s entry, titled ‘Earth Matters’, explores the impact of climate change through the perspective of planet Earth.

“Climate change is a big deal for a lot of kids and families because even if you don’t believe in it, it is still going to happen,” Sarah said.

“I thought if I did win then people would read my story and see that if Earth could talk, I don’t think it would like how it’s being treated.”

Sarah said she was very surprised when she found out she won her category and was a finalist in the national category after entering the competition as part of a class activity set by her year five/six teacher Jessica Abrego.

“Ms Abrego helped me with bits and pieces like adding more emotive language,” she said.

“During the process I learnt that a lot of people are passionate about climate change and other issues.”

Teacher Ms Abrego said Sarah was a deserving winner and finalist.

“When Sarah gave me her initial work I was actually quite teary and emotional reading it, so my reaction of her winning didn’t surprise me because as soon as I read it, I knew it was a masterpiece,” she said.

“We were doing a lot of work on persuasive writing and sustainability, so it was really good timing to talk about what mattered to the students and for them to be able to use their voice to persuade people to see their side.

“We can tell students what we want, but they’re the ones that are growing up in this society and they’re the ones who need to have a voice about their future and what impacts them.”

Nearly 4,500 people entered the competition this year, with Mia Horsfall from Frensham School in NSW being announced the national winner at a ceremony on 9 September.

“It is exhilarating to read the entries from this very talented group of young Australians,” Whitlam Institute director Leanne Smith said.

“There is great beauty in their words and there are valuable insights in their arguments that deserve to be heard and responded to.

“Not only should adults take more notice, and listen more intently to what young Australians are saying, we should very seriously take stock of their advice.”

Caption: Year six New Town Primary School student Sarah Heynes was awarded the year five/six category for Tasmania in the Whitlam Institute’s ‘What Matters’ writing competition for her entry on climate change, titled ‘Earth Matters’.

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