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AG Yost Recognizes Canton Students in Do the Write Thing Program, Which Targets a Reduction in Youth Violence


(CANTON, Ohio) – Nick Jones, a student at Early College Middle School, candidly reflects on how he has grown all-too accustomed to violence:

For most of my life so far I lived in a low-income area, due to many systemic faults, most low-income areas have a lot of violence. I would hear a lot of gunshots and shouts, it happened so frequently that me and my family didn’t react, it was normal for us.

Desensitization, he believes, is responsible for the surge in youth violence in many areas of the country.

Jones is among 20 students from the Canton City School District recognized this morning by Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost as finalists in the "Do the Write Thing" program, a national initiative that invites seventh- and eighth-graders to explore the impact of violence and propose solutions for their communities.

“Once again, Canton students were asked to write about how violence impacts their daily lives and to share their ideas of how to reduce violence in their community,” Yost wrote in the introductory letter of a booklet containing the essays of the Canton finalists. “They tackled the difficult subject with candor, thoughtfulness and insight beyond their years.”

Initiated in Ohio in 2021 with Springfield City Schools, the "Do the Write Thing" program has since been adopted by four other districts: Canton, Lima, Youngstown and Zanesville. For three years now, Canton has provided students with this platform to articulate personal experiences and potentially find catharsis.

This year, the district received 1,105 submissions from seventh- and eighth-graders at Early College Middle School, Crenshaw Middle School, and the STEAMM Academy at Hartford Middle School. The award ceremony took place today at All-City Grille in Canton. Although Attorney General Yost was unable to attend the event, he shared a video message with the students.

“I know it’s not easy to write about violence,” Yost said in the video message. “But your essays were thoughtful, eye opening, provocative, exactly what we need to learn from you – our young citizens – to give us a better understanding of the world you’d like to live in and how it looks now from your point of view.”

Business leaders and community members served as judges for Do the Write Thing, selecting 20 stories for publication in the booklet, which will be distributed statewide.

Nick Jones and Carlo Virola will represent the Canton district, joining six students from the three other districts participating this year – as Ohio's ambassadors at the "Do the Write Thing" national conference in July in Washington, D.C.

Canton Superintendent Jeff Talbert said students’ thoughts are essential to discussions about ending violence in our communities.

“Sharing their experiences and ideas in their own voices helps encourage others to address challenges and resolve problems without conflict and violence,” he said. “It’s an initiative that will have a positive impact on all of us for years to come and a reminder that our future leaders are already developing strong, clear voices that deserve to be heard.”

Since its founding in 1994 by the National Campaign to Stop Youth Violence, the Do the Write Thing program has impacted millions of students nationwide. Yost’s office partners with Do the Write Thing to bring the program to school districts throughout Ohio.

Dominic Binkley: 614-728-4127

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