(SPRINGFIELD, Ohio) — Lily Hatton, student at Springfield Roosevelt Middle School, is one of 10 middle school students from the Springfield City School District finalists honored recently by Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost as a finalists in the “Do the Write Thing Challenge” — which asked students to discuss their experiences with violence.
“I can’t begin to express how proud I am of the bravery and passion these middle school students shared with us in their writings,” Yost said. “I knew there were some tremendous students in Springfield, but the level of thoughtfulness and desire to make their community better is stunning.”
AG Yost partnered with the Springfield City School District for Ohio’s first “Do the Write Thing” challenge, which is designed to encourage young people – in their own words – to discuss instances of violence they experienced and share their ideas of how to reduce violence in their community.
“We need to make it easier for kids and people in juvie to get love and support, and show them that we don’t want them in the system. Show them that through proper work and education that they can better themselves and even their communities and cities and states and maybe even the country as a whole. Overall we just need to spread love and compassion and empathy for people and whatever situations they have.” – Corbin Lambert, Roosevelt Middle School
“Violence has affected my life directly as a youth. When I was younger, my mom and dad would argue and fight all the time. It was to the point where my mom even took us in and out of women shelters and nothing changed. Their fights were so bad, sometimes the fights would be physical. It was very scary.” — Nevaeh Myers, Roosevelt Middle School.
“I’ve been shot at in front of my own house, I’ve saved my mom from almost being raped, my house has been robbed many times, a lot of my family members are ‘til this day drug abusers, drug dealers, or alcohol abusers, which lead me to think that it was okay to drink, smoke, do drugs, sell drugs, etc. I was also abused a lot. I was pretty much the punching bag for my family to take their anger out on because they have messed up. Which led to me having depression, anxiety, and also an eating disorder which may have led to diabetes because I stopped too late, but I never got the results back from my doctor.” – Clayton Brim Jr., Hayward Middle School.
The program received more than 660 submissions from seventh- and eighth-grade students from Hayward Middle School, Roosevelt Middle School and Schaefer Middle School. The awards ceremony was at Roosevelt Middle School.
Springfield community members and business leaders volunteered their time to read each essay and choose the ten submissions most responsive to the key questions:
—How does violence affect your daily life?
—What are some of the causes of youth violence in your community?
—What can you as an individual do to reduce youth violence in your community?
The top ten writings were compiled into a booklet to be shared across the state to recognize the students who excelled in accepting the challenge to share their voices and help stop violence. The top ten finalists are: Caleb Beverly (Schaefer), Clayton Brim Jr. (Hayward), Benjamin Brown (Roosevelt), Anna Denton (Hayward), Lily Hatton (Roosevelt), Corbin Lambert (Roosevelt), Kayla Miller (Roosevelt), Nevaeh Myers (Roosevelt), Karson Spurgeon (Schaefer), and Breyanna Ward (Roosevelt).
Dr. Bob Hill, the superintendent of the Springfield school district, acknowledges how students found their voices, organized their thoughts and shared them through this challenge.
“I hope that you see the passion, heart and courage as you read each of their essays,” Hill said. “Although they may only be beginning their teen years, I believe we can all learn something from their experiences and unique perspectives.”
Of the top ten writings, Lily Hatton and Corbin Lambert were selected to become Ohio’s ambassadors to the national “Do the Write Thing” conference.
“Do the Write Thing” is organized by U.S. National Campaign to stop youth violence and has been in existence for 25 years. It operates programs in 26 cities in 13 states. Over the last 25 years, 1.2 million middle school students have participated in the program. Additional information about the program can be found at www.dtwt.org/.
“Thank you to all the students for their honesty and courage in sharing their stories and ideas,” Yost said. “Talking about violence isn’t easy. But shining light on the uncomfortable reality in many of our homes, schools and communities is critical to turning the tide and creating a brighter tomorrow.”