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The Do the Write Thing Texas Challenge began in Houston, Harris County and now there are nine Challenge Sites in Texas. The sites are Austin, Beaumont, laredo, Corpus Christi, Dallas, El Paso, Houston/Harris County and San Antonio.
The program engages students in thoughtful classroom discussions about violence and its impact on their lives; seeks their analyses of the causes and solicits their quest for solutions. The written composition portion cultivates logic, creativity and literacy. The Challenge gives the youngsters a forum in which to have their voices heard and their ideas valued. Reflection upon the causes and effects of violence inculcates personal responsibility.
Teachers are provided a lesson plan for Classroom discussions and the writing assignment. The Lesson Plan meets Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) objectives in the subjects of English/Language Arts, Social Studies and Health/PE. Students formulate their essays around the answers to these three questions:
• How has violence affected my life?
• What are the causes of youth violence?
• What can I do about youth violence?
The students then write on these issues. It is heartening that, almost unanimously, they reach the conclusion that personal responsibility and positive conduct are keys to a healthy civil society. Additionally, the program teaches children how to deal with anger, slights, bullying and other conflicts in a constructive way, without resorting to violence. Also addressed are the subjects of resisting peer pressure, avoiding illicit drug usage and seeking help for family abuse.
Recognition and acknowledgement of all participants is an integral feature of this project. Every student who submits an essay receives a Certificate of Recognition. Each paper is read by community volunteers who select a boy and girl with the most thought provoking essays from each school as Student Finalists. The Student Finalists, their parents, teachers, principals and superintendents are invited to a recognition celebration.