Springfield schools to participate in writing challenge about community violence for second year

In partnership with Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, the Do the Write Thing program has also expanded to two other schools

Middle school students in the Springfield City School District will participate in the Do the Write Thing program for the second year in a row.

In partnership with Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, Springfield was the first school district in Ohio to participate last year in the program.

Yost has expanded the second year of the writing program to students in Lima City Schools in Allen County and Zanesville City Schools in Muskingum County, according to a release.

These two schools will join Springfield schools, who received over 660 submissions last school year from seventh- and eighth-grade students from Hayward, Roosevelt and Schaefer middle schools.

As part of a collaboration of the Do the Write Thing program and Yost, the challenge encourages students across the state to share how their experiences with violence has personally impacted them and how they can reduce violence in their communities.

“We value the opportunity that (the program) provides to our students to make their voices be heard and provide solutions to the epidemic of violence, which has plagued communities around Ohio and the United States,” said Superintendent Bob Hill. “(The program) teaches our students that even the youngest among us have the choice and the power to be peacemakers in their school, at home and around their community.”

Students are asked to write about the effects of violence, including bullying, in their lives.

“Providing children an outlet to discuss their fears and grief around these devastating incidents can provoke real change and better understanding,” Yost said. “I was blown away last year when I read stories of bravery and the ideas for change these students produced.”

The program challenges students to express in story, poem, song or other written form the violence they have face while exploring these 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?

School spokeswoman Jenna Leinasars said the district looks forward to what the students will accomplish this year with the program.

“The program is also very eye opening to staff members who may not be aware of the violence that our students have experienced and how it affects them in the classroom. Together, (the program) helps our entire school community to learn more about each other and to better support our students,” she said.

Last year, 10 Springfield students were honored by Yost for being finalists in the “Do the Write Thing” Challenge. From those 10, two students were selected to become Ohio’s ambassadors to the national Do the Write Thing conference.

Writing pieces are judged by community leaders through multiple rounds and then narrowed down to two finalists who will move on to represent the school district during the national Do the Write Thing convention over the summer.

According to a study this year by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, emergency room visits for attempted suicide increased by 31% during the pandemic for children ages 12-17. According to a U.S. Department of Justice study, 60% of students have been directly or indirectly exposed to violence that has caused long-term physical and mental harm and increased the likelihood that students would continue the violence cycle.

“We’ve all had to confront violence at some point in our lives, but what we don’t always do is talk about it,” Yost said. “This process will not only be cathartic but also help us all be better leaders.”

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