Young Lives, BIG Stories Contest

Get quick answers to questions about Young Lives, BIG Stories.

The 2019 contest has closed. Thank you to all who entered.

Winners will be announced soon.


Q: Who can enter the contest?

A: Contest is open to Active Duty Army, Army National Guard, Army Reserve, Army Spouse or U.S. Army Retiree children preschool through twelfth grade.

Q: How do I enter the contest?
A: Tell us what it means to be a military child through a drawing (ages 3 – 3rd grade) or essay (4th-12th grade). Submit your entry by visiting the "Enter" section of the site, downloading, completing your form and sending it in by April 30, 2019. Make sure you include “Young Lives, BIG Stories” in the subject line of your submission. All submissions must have a COMPLETED and SIGNED (by a parent/legal guardian/sponsor) entry form.

Q: What types of files are accepted?
A: The following file types are accepted for entries: .doc, .pdf, .jpeg, .png. Files must be under 5 MB.

Q: What are the categories for the contest?
A: The contest is open to children of active duty Army, National Guard, and Army Reserve, preschool through 12th.

  • Ages 3 – 4 (drawings only)
  • Ages 5 – 1st grade (drawings only)
  • 2nd – 3rd grade (drawings only)
  • 4th – 5th grade (essays only)
  • 6th – 8th grade (essays only)
  • 9th – 12th grade (essays only)

Q: How many times may I enter the contest?
A: Each participant may submit (1) entry into the contest

Q: How many winners will be selected?
A: One prize winner will be selected from each category. The top overall winner will receive the grand prize.

Q: What are the guidelines for drawings?
A: Guidelines for drawings are as follows:

  • Drawings are only accepted from participants ages 3 – 3rd grade.
  • The drawings must reflect the question “What does it mean to you to be a military child?”
  • Word (.doc), .pdf, .jpeg, .png files accepted.
  • Title your submission “Young Lives, BIG Stories Contest” and provide a brief description of your drawing (2-3 sentences).
  • All submissions must be under 5MB.

Q: What are the guidelines for written submissions?
A: Guidelines for written submissions are as follows:

  • Written submissions are only accepted from participants in 4th – 12th grade.
  • Written submissions must answer the question “What does it mean to you to be a military child?”
  • Submissions must be at least 50 words up to 500 words in length.
  • Word (.doc), .pdf, .jpeg, .png files accepted.
  • All submissions must be under 5MB.

Q: What forms of entry are accepted?
A: Online entries are PREFERRED, but mail in entries will be accepted (must be postmarked prior to the end of the submission period). 

  • Online entries must be titled "Young Lives, BIG Stories" in the subject line. All online entries will be emailed to
  • Mail entries can be sent to:

Department of the Army
IMCOM G9 – Child and Youth Services
ATTN: CYS Parent and Outreach Services
2455 Reynolds Rd.
JBSA, Fort Sam Houston, TX 78234-7588

Q: Does my parent need to sign anything for me to enter the contest?
A: All entries must have a completed and signed (by a parent/sponsor/legal guardian) entry form included with the submission.

Q: Can parents submit entries?
A: Submission may be submitted by parent or custodian of the child. The parent must be Active Duty Army, Army National Guard, Army Reserve, Military Spouse, or U.S. Army Retiree.

Q: By when must the entries be submitted?
A: Entries must be submitted (or postmarked) by 11:59 p.m. CST April 30, 2019.

Q: Who may create the entries?
A: Entrants must have primary creative control of their submission, and all submission materials must be original. In the case of age category 3 yrs-3rd grade, parents may assist with the 2-3 sentence description of submission.

Q: What will disqualify an entry?
A: The use of violence, profanity and/or tobacco/alcohol in drawings or written submissions will automatically disqualify the entry from the contest.