By Tom Degun

Toronto 2015 macot challengeJanuary 14 - Toronto 2015 have officially launched their competition to design the mascot for the Pan and Parapan American Games with Canadian children aged 16 and under being invited to submit their designs.

Rather than relying on professional illustrators, Toronto 2015 say they want to tap into the unbridled enthusiasm and creativity of young people and they are urging children across Canada to get involved in the competition.

All designs for the Toronto 2015 Mascot Creation Challenge must be submitted in a team that can range in size from two to six people in keeping with the spirit of the Games.

"This is a great opportunity for kids to dream up a truly one-of-a-kind mascot that will help us tell the unique story of our Games," said Toronto 2015 chief executive Ian Troop.

"We're looking for entries made by teams of young people working and collaborating together.

"The idea is for kids to play together and let their imaginations run wild.

"We can hardly wait to see what they come up with."

To be considered, all hand-drawn entries along with a 250-word mascot life story must be sent by post to Toronto 2015 by March 8 this year.

The mascot could be an animal, an inanimate object or even a space oddity that captures the excitement of the Games and the imagination of the public while all participants in the Toronto 2015 Mascot Creation Challenge will receive a special certificate.

A special Toronto 2015 panel will choose the top six designs after the date for submissions closes on March 8 and they will then have the chance to work with a professional illustrator to bring their creations to life.

These six designs will then be featured in a nationwide online voting contest this spring.

On August 7 this year, the winning mascot design and its story will then be revealed in time for the two-year countdown to Toronto 2015.

Toronto 2015 will be hoping that their mascot will prove as popular as the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympics mascots Miga, Quatchi, Sumi and Mukmuk who starred at what was the last major multi-sport event in Canada.

vancouver-2010-mascotsToronto 2015 will be hoping their mascot will prove as popular as the Vancouver 2010 mascots Miga, Quatchi, Sumi and Mukmuk

"These are the 'People's Games' and that's why we wanted to reach out to young Canadians to create something that captures their excitement and vision of what that means to them," said the Toronto 2015 vice-president of brand activation Steve Wallace.

"One of the core Toronto 2015 values is collaboration.

"It takes a tremendous amount of teamwork to make a Games successful.

"Our challenge is designed to nurture these values in our young mascot design teams. After all, we all have different skills and talents.

"Working together brings out the best in all of us."

As the official ambassador of the Games, the mascot will visit communities and schools throughout Canada and welcome athletes and visitors from 41 countries at Toronto 2015.

It will also appear on signage and merchandise, including the always popular collectible pins and toys.

For more information about the Toronto 2015 Mascot Creation Challenge or for details on how to take part click here.

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