On April 21, Lisa Burwell, publisher of VIE, had the privilege to speak to the 5th grade class at Destin Elementary School as part of the Mattie Kelley Arts Foundation’s children’s educational outreach program, All Kinds of Art. As part of her discussion on publishing, Lisa offered the class a chance to participate in an article-writing contest. The bright, energetic, and compassionate bunch of students submitted articles about ways they can make a difference in the world. We have chosen to showcase the work of the top two winners, Sidney Freeman and Jordan Breed, who best exemplified the group of motivated students who, at a young age, are already trying to make the world a better place.
Sidney Freeman | Destin Middle School Fifth Grade
I can make a difference in my community by helping local charities and community groups. My parents are both on the board of directors of the United Way, and my mother is a past president. My brother and I have volunteered to help at community events and fundraisers for as long as I can remember. For most of my life, I have been involved with raising money for groups like the American Cancer Society Relay for Life, the United Way, the American Heart Association Heart Walk, Destin Elementary School and Destin Middle School.
When I was younger I wondered why my mom and dad were always volunteering to help different groups raise money. Now that I am older, I see the need in our community. There are many people who do not have food to eat or a place to sleep. I have seen the homeless people standing on corners in our community asking for money and food. This makes me very sad. I worry about children who do not have clothes and homes. I did some research and have learned that there are over 2,400 homeless people in Okaloosa and Walton counties. That is a lot of people who really need some help. I do not know what I would do if I did not have a family and home to go to every day.
I also know there are many people in our community who have illnesses that only research can cure. My granddad has cancer and I hope there will be a cure one day. This is why I participate in the American Cancer Society Relay for Life. The money we raise goes toward research to help find a cure for cancer. We also have family members with heart problems. My family participates in the Heart Walk every year to support research for heart disease and stroke.
I am so proud of my brother’s efforts to make a difference in our community. He has created a non-profit organization called Youth United to get high school students involved in identifying needs and solving community problems. I plan to help organize efforts at Destin Middle School for the new Youth United program. The Destin Middle School Student Council picks a fundraising project to work on each year. I am going to inform our student council of opportunities to volunteer and raise money for local charities. I think kids should be involved in helping people in our community just like our parents. I hope to encourage many other middle school students to become volunteers and help a charity.
When I was five, six and seven years old, I did not understand why we were always going to fundraisers and walking on the weekends. I complained to my parents about always having to go somewhere with them. I was too young to understand why all those people were coming together.
As an eleven-year-old, I know that I can make a difference. I now understand why my parents and thousands of other local people help collect food, donate clothes and raise money. When we all come together we can make a big difference in the lives of others.
Jordan Breed | Destin Middle School Fifth Grade
I can make a difference. Saying this to myself seems like a big responsibility, and an effort, but it’s not. You can get some of your old clothes and give them to a local shelter, to your little sibling, or to a friend.
I volunteer at an animal shelter. Dogs and cats that don’t have a home need all of the help they can get. You can donate pet food, dog beds, and toys to animal shelters.
When I go to the beach, I pick up trash in the sand. If nobody picks the trash up, then when it washes out to sea, marine wildlife become sick from polluted waters and they might even try to eat the trash.
There are three “Rs” that you should always remember. Reuse, reduce, and recycle. You can reuse your grocery bags and water bottles. Try to reduce your electric and water bill by turning off lights when you leave a room, and turning off the water while you brush your teeth. Take chargers out of the wall when you’re not using them because they still use energy. You can recycle newspapers, water bottles, and cans. Doing these things can make a big difference in our world.
You can volunteer at homeless shelters. You give out food, clothes, and blankets to people who don’t have these things. Just remember that one little thing can make a big difference.
— V —