Michael Harrison of Ranson Middle and Cindy Yang of Southwest Middle live in different communities, but both have struggled with youth violence and drug abuse in their neighborhoods. To help change their environments, the middle school students put pen to paper and entered the Do The Write Thing Essay Contest and wrote about solutions that can keep their families and peers safe.
Michael and Cindy won the Mecklenburg County contest and are headed Washington, D.C. July 14-18, for the national Do The Write Thing Challenge conference. During the visit, they will be recognized during a special ceremony and meet with U.S. senators and other elected officials. The students will also visit the Library of Congress, where their essays will be published in a book.
Michael and Cindy’s essays explain how drugs and violence have affected their personal lives. Their experiences led them to research ways they can fight bullying and substance abuse in their neighborhoods and at school.
“I think bullying is the biggest problem in youth violence,” said Yang, a rising ninth-grader. “I can help stop youth violence by standing up for others when they’re being bullied.”
“This is a great opportunity for the youth to offer solutions to end youth violence,” said Ronnie Devine, coordinator of the Do the Write Thing Essay Challenge for Mecklenburg County. “We are proud of these students for being leaders in their schools and in their communities.”
Middle students participated in classroom discussions to help them develop the essays. The students talked about how they can reduce youth violence and made personal commitments to address the problem.
“I could start a group that would encourage others not to do drugs and put up posters around the neighborhood,” said Harrison, a rising eighth-grader.
A total of 2,777 essays were submitted for the contest with 18 Charlotte area middle schools participating. There were 34 finalists in the competition.
The Mecklenburg County Community Support Services and Project Safe Neighborhoods offices sponsored the contest.
Michael and Cindy received a certificate, MP3 player and a backpack filled with school supplies.