As I'm writing this post, young people all over the country are organizing for March for Our Lives. The Kuwait America Foundation's wish for our young people through Do the Write Thing is an interesting parallel. We knew then that young people had the answers, but it seems like they are finally recognizing and organizing. I am in such awe of the leadership that it emerging. Ok. Here's Justin!
Yesterday, in a very off the cuff comment about Justin Bieber (in reference to what might bring an arts and crafts class of middle school aged girls in Haiti to a 'screaming halt' ), I suggested a snake, a spider, a hurricane, or Justin Bieber. Unlike most people, I don't think of Justin often, but it reminded me of a video my friend Special K, one of the Harlem Globetrotters had sent me years ago.
Kevin "Special K" Daley was a guest speaker at a dinner in Washington D.C., speaking to the young people at the Do the Write Thing (DTWT) conference. I had heard the globetrotters were there and Kevin was in a suit so I wasn't sure, but judging by his height, I thought the odds were good he might be one! I introduced myself as one of the youth chaperones, said I had heard the globetrotters were there, thought he might be one but if not, he was tall enough to look over the crowd and help me find them. He laughed and our friendship began!
DTWT originated from the Kuwait America Foundation as an expression of gratitude. The citizens of Kuwait wanted to extend appreciations to the United States because we made Kuwait a safer place for their children. Their hope was that youth in communities throughout the United States would be safer through the reflection and suggestions initiated by the Do the Write Thing Challenge. The ultimate goal was that young people would be empowered to make the changes that would break the cycle of violence in their homes, schools and communities. This was the first year Harrisburg Area youth participated.
Judge Jeannine Turgeon, from Dauphin County, PA, brought the program to the Harrisburg area. Communities across the country participated in their local communities and each chose two ambassadors to attend the summer event. There was a week long event where students met their representative, attended an event at the Kuwait embassy, and a ceremony at the Library of Congress where their essays were submitted.
Students discussed the problem of youth violence with their teachers in a classroom setting and then wrote their own reflections to three questions:
1) How has youth violence affected my life?
2) What are the causes of youth violence?
3) What can I do to reduce youth violence?
Judge Turgeon's courtroom was filled with students who participated in the Do the Write Thing Challenge. JT feels that acedemic pursuits should be given the same respect as those in sports so she ensures that the students have trophies and certificates. Parents and teachers looked on proudly as middle schools students were honored for their efforts.
The guidelines for 2018 Do the Write Thing are up on their website. i strongly advise anyone who has middle school students to encourage their student's teacher to get involved, These are exciting times as young people discover they do have a voice and what they are saying is important.. http://www.dtwt.org/the-challenge/instructions
“As kids, we don’t always have a voice, so having a person there listening to us, then it would make us feel more important. Since adolescents are the future, we need a positive presence to lead us into a positive future. Learning to help kids would be beneficial tomorrow and in the generations to come.” ~ student from Do the Write Thing
"My mission is
to help others see and cherish the beauty,
romance and treasures within and around them
that are often dismissed or completely overlooked."
Mikell is a writer, artist and professional treasure hunter, finding the greatest treasures in the wonderful people who enter her life!