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Franklin Park Zoo partners with Boston Public Schools and World Unity Inc. on poetry contest

Boston Public Schools (BPS), Franklin Park Zoo, and World Unity Inc. have partnered together to launch a poetry contest with the theme, “The Importance of Diversity for a Strong Healthy World for Humans, Animals and Nature.”

The genesis for the idea comes from the Sun Poem, which has an extraordinary history with Boston. In 1985, it was the centerpiece of a citywide multi-media public service campaign promoting racial and ethnic harmony throughout the city. The poem continues to resonate and inspire today.

The contest application is currently open and will close on March 17th, 2023, and all BPS students across all grades are invited to participate! A diverse panel of judges comprised of partners and members of the Boston community will evaluate submissions on the following criteria.

Poem submissions must…

  • Express an original idea
  • Focus on the theme of “The Importance of Diversity for a Strong Healthy World for Humans, Animals and Nature”
  • Evoke a strong feeling
  • Fall within a minimum length of 4 lines, and a maximum of 12 lines

Three winning poems — one elementary, one middle school, and one high school — will be selected and announced by the end of April. The winning poems and the Sun Poem will be prominently displayed in the gardens of the Franklin Park Zoo. The three winners’ entire homeroom or classroom will win a trip to visit the zoo (transportation provided by Franklin Park Zoo) for a day of exploration and fun! A Family Membership will also be awarded to each of the three poem winners.

“Franklin Park Zoo is pleased to partner with Boston Public Schools and World Unity Inc. on this exciting new initiative designed to promote equality, diversity and inclusion,” said Cynthia Mead, Zoo New England EVP of External Affairs and Programming. “We look forward to engaging the students creatively, as well as fostering a deeper appreciation and respect for not only wildlife, but for each other.”

The Franklin Park Zoo recognizes along with the Boston Public Schools and World Unity Inc. that all humans have unconscious biases. Laws, policies, and technology cannot remove them. It is up to the individual. Students are engaged to write a poem that will cultivate a mindset to value diversity in humanity, the animal kingdom and nature.

“This contest is an opportunity to invite students to see the diversity in humans, animals, and nature in a new way. Write a poem that makes us feel their heart and see their vision. Like the Sun poem that can ignite change within, children’s words can move our hearts and inspire a beautiful vision of a world we all can embrace,” says Sara Ting, President and Founder of World Unity, Inc.“

“We are eager to collaborate with the Franklin Park Zoo and World Unity Inc. to create a platform where students can express their drive for social change through the lens of humanity, animals, and nature. We recognize the power of the arts and how students can channel their artistry to advocate for a better world with diversity, equity, and inclusion at the heart of this change,” says Anthony Beatrice, Executive Director at the BPS Visual and Performing Arts Department.

“At the very core of our beloved city lies Franklin Park, and likewise, diversity, equality, and inclusion lie at the heart of our mission to empower our young people to be successful,” said Boston Public Schools Superintendent Mary Skipper. “We encourage each and every one of our students to participate in this contest and to express their individuality, perspectives, and ideas through their poems. We are eager to read their wonderful works of art!”

This contest will benefit the students and the greater community. Dr. King recognized we can pass all the laws we want, we cannot legislate the heart. The poems can open minds and hearts and help create a community where people, animals and nature are valued!

Poetry submissions can be made here.

For more information, please contact:
Emmanuel Toledo
Program Director for the Performing Arts
Boston Public Schools Visual and Performing Arts Department
etoledo@bostonpublicschools.org