Tyaiona Jones- 1st Place- $300
W.B. Patterson Elementary School
Malaysia K. Hylton- 2nd Place- $200
Center City PCS-Capitol Hill
Darrell Boyd- 3rd Place- $100
W.B. Patterson Elementary School
Miguel Coppedge- 1st Place- $300
Washington Global PCS
Kechelle Settle- 2nd Place- $200
John Philip Sousa Middle School
Tionna Gay- 3rd Place- $100
John Phillip Sousa Jr. High School
Hans Capozzi -1st Place – $300
McKinley Technology High School
Kayla Rowles-2nd Place – $200
Lauryn Renford-3rd Place and MBYLI Winner – $100
Thurgood Marshall Academy
1st Place – Elementary
As I walk through my Bellevue neighborhood, I see children throwing many types of objects at the buildings. I am terrified of any foreign object coming through my window. Throwing dangerous objects at people’s windows is an issue that really affects the safety of my daily life. I even think about it when I am at school.
As I am reflecting on this issue of vandalism, I recall one day I heard a big crash near the window. There was a big brick on the floor in my living room. I jumped out of bed and screamed as loud as I could for my mom. Finally, when she came in my room she saw a big hole in the window. As my mom called the police, she looked outside and saw two kids throwing bricks and rocks at another building. I was anxious that it would happen to me again and I did not feel safe at all.
When I think about how I can make my neighborhood safer, there are some changes I can implement. The first thing I would do is to call our ward’s councilman, Trayon White, to hold a town hall meeting to highlight this issue. In addition, I would ask parents in my community to form a neighborhood watch group that could work closely with the police. Also, I would ask adults for a donation to rebuild the apartments. In addition, my friends and I would have a bake sale, collect pennies and collect bottles to add to the donation. Last, I would keep the buildings that got repaired safe and make sure the people that did bad things to the buildings go to someplace else.
These are just a few of the positive things that we will begin to start doing in my neighborhood. I will continue to talk about future activities to keep my neighborhood safe.
1st Place – Middle School
Washington Global PCS
What issue(s) of concern are impacting your community and how can you implement change?
There are a few issues of concern that are impacting my community. The first issue is there is no or not enough community policing in the neighborhoods or schools. Children are afraid of the police because all they see on the news or on videos are people and children of their skin color (Black) getting beat up or killed. I chose to implement change by writing a book titled “Friendly Officers” which highlights six D.C. police officers that are dear and close to me displaying community policing. I also did a Community Policing PSA with Chief Peter Newsham to talk about how the police and the communities can come together and make D.C. a safer and better place to live which you can find on YouTube. February 24, 2018 at 2:30 p.m. at Shaw Library. I will be doing a reading of my book and will accompanied by the officers in the book and Chief Newsham to have dialogue about community policing and how the Metropolitan Police Department can better serve the communities in which they serve and protect. I think there should be more community policing events for children in their neighborhoods and schools to build up trust between them and the police. For example, I think the police should go to the schools and have the children do police activities like investigations or scavenger hunts.
The second issue of concern that is impacting my community is there are not enough mental health programs to help the children with their problems. As a child who suffers from ADHD, Mood Disorders and Bipolar, it’s an everyday struggle to manage my moods and/or meltdowns. Children like me need more support groups and community support workers who are dedicated regardless of pay to help us with managing our struggles. It really makes a difference when you have someone who understands what you are going through that can help you. One thing that I do to help children like me is to share the tools and techniques that I learned from my mom, therapist and community support worker. I would like to create a support group in my school where we can share our issues and give advice or suggestions to help each other with managing our problems.
In conclusion, as a young citizen of Washington, D.C., I am doing my part to ensure that law enforcement provide community policing in the neighborhoods in which they serve and protect and that the children in these communities aren’t afraid of them through my “Friendly Officer” book and forums where dialogue can take place to come up with solutions to make our communities safer and better places to live. Also, sharing my mood management techniques with my peers helps us to have better days and better relationships with others.
1st Place – High School
McKinley Technology High School
To find this essay contest I simply logged into my computer at home and started typing, but it’s not always that easy for a lot of other kids in my community. One important issue of concern in DC right now is lack of access to a computer or internet in the households of many children. Children within our own public school system in DC are given homework assignments that they can’t complete because it’s not always easy to be in an out of the library every day.
The problem is not that internet is not available for everyone, it is that because access to it is not convenient for those who don’t have it at home, they often decide that going out of their way outweighs the benefits. This is not something the children can be blamed for because they are still young and cannot be expected to be as independent and resourceful as they are often expected to be. Simply because a child lives in the inner city, should not mean they are held to a standard of self-reliance where they are expected to plan around their misfortune. Something needs to be done about this issue and there are a few different ways it could be approached.
First, DCPS could take action to help students get access to the internet at home. Second, libraries could create ways for students to be able to access the internet more easily at the library itself. Lastly, the government could create ways for parents to get computer and internet access in their homes. With these solutions comes a lack of help, but if people like me who want to help their community find ways to do so, this issue could be resolved.
At my school, McKinley Technology, a new system was just implemented this year where students go to their advisory classes in the morning and pick up their personal laptops. This is a start in terms of DCPS helping, but the fallacy is that we have to turn them back in at the end of the day. I’ve even seen many students take these laptops home because now that we mostly do work on computers in class, teachers assign most homework on the computer which is a disadvantage for many students who don’t have internet at home. If DCPS was to institute a system where students in need of computers can check-out laptops at the end of each day and check them back in during the school day, which brings me to my next point. Some students are used to utilizing the library or might not have Wi-Fi to access the internet even if they were offered these school laptops. For these kids, libraries could assign hours where computers are strictly reserved for students because it is common that even if they are ready to use library computers on a consistent basis, students fall victim to long lines of people using the computers for non-academic affairs. Lastly, when I attended the MLK march last year, I met representatives from two organizations, Project Reboot and Wildtech, that are both working on getting low-cost computers to DC residents. They even offer internet access for ten dollars a month. If the DC Government paid for student fee waivers valid with these organizations and others like them, the percent of students without computer or internet access in their homes would decrease dramatically.
I believe that these resolutions are not far-fetched. It would not take too much funding or effort to institute systems of free technology for students. There are a few ways that I can help with the solutions that I proposed. First, I could go to the chancellor of DCPS and explain what my school is doing with the laptops and give him a written plan on how to do it for other schools. Second, to help make my idea for reserved computer time for students in public libraries a reality, I can send this idea to the executive officer of DC Public libraries and explain that, as a student I see this benefitting my community. Lastly, I can do my part by spreading my knowledge of organizations already in place and spread my ideas for creating more. I have already put people in need of technology on to these organizations, but my outreach could continue to expand with hard work and dedication. I For me, creating change in my community benefit myself, my family, and my friends which is motivation enough for me to do all I can do.