Youngsters from Ellesmere Port are full of smiles after winning a creative writing competition.

More than 350 schoolchildren from five schools put pen to paper as part of Cheshire West and Chester Council’s ‘SMILE’ campaign to attract new foster carers and adopters.

The youngsters were asked to share their thoughts about what makes them smile in a short story or poem.

Jessica Weston of Sutton Green Primary was selected as overall winner with her entry entitled Inside a Smile and there were 12 runners-up.

The winning stories and poems have now been published in a booklet titled What Makes Me Smile.

All 13 youngsters attended a celebration event at Whitby Sports Club, where they were presented with their awards by Devan Bailey of the Cheshire Phoenix Basketball Team.

Devan, whose parents are foster carers, volunteered his time to help raise awareness of the need for more foster carers and adopters in West Cheshire. Schools taking part were Sutton Green, Cambridge Road, The Oaks, Rivacre Valley and Wolverham.

Creative writing competition winners from Ellesmere Port primary schools with Devan Bailey of Cheshire Phoenix Basketball Team
 

The winners were chosen by a judging panel comprising foster carer Chris Peters, Anne Ainsworth of Ellesmere Port library and borough councillors Ben Powell, Justin Madders and Pat Merrick.

Cllr Powell (Lab, St Paul’s) said: “We were thrilled with the response to the competition.

“The standard was so high that choosing just 13 winning entries was not an easy task.

“My congratulations go to Jessica and to each of the runners-up. They should be very proud of themselves.”

He added: “It is wonderful to read what makes them smile, things such as sunny days, pets, friends, going to school and where they live. But touchingly, the overwhelming subject is family.

“Family is at the heart of our SMILE campaign. We need local carers for local children and this competition is playing a valuable role in raising awareness in the Ellesmere Port community.

“In West Cheshire we have 470 children in care but only 180 fostering households.

“We also have a shortage of adopters.

“We want to spread the message that there is no such thing as a typical foster carer or adopter. The most important thing is that you can offer a secure, stable and caring environment for a child either on a short-term, long-term or permanent basis.

“If you think you can make a difference to a child’s life, please take that first step and get in touch with our fostering and adoption recruitment team.”

Ellesmere Port is the latest area in the borough to take part in the competition.

By taking part pupils help to spread the fostering and adoption message to their families and the wider community.

Schools also help to raise awareness by displaying banners on their fencing and hosting the council’s recruitment information events for people to find out more about becoming a foster carer or adopter.

Further information is available at  www.smileadoptionandfostering.co.uk.

Alternatively, there is a 24-hour hotline on 01244 972222 or text SMILE to 80010.