A capacity crowd at the “Do the Write Thing Challenge” dinner celebration were wowed by the presentations of Jazmyne Robinson, Woodland Hills Junior High School; and Angelo Madison, South Hills Middle School. Both of their writings were chosen from among the 1,103 submissions from middle school students of the Pittsburgh Public and the Woodland Hills School districts. WQED’s Chris Moore served as host of the dinner celebration and remarks were offered by surprise guest, the Hon. Justice Max Baer of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.
“My wife and I feel called by God to work with youth. I see far too many youth in my courtroom each day who have been involved with or impacted by violence and giving them the opportunity to discuss violence with their teachers and in written form is a most important step in eliminating this societal problem.”
The “Do the Write Thing Challenge” is an initiative of the National Campaign to Stop Violence, which gives middle school students an opportunity to write about the impact of violence on their lives. It also gives teachers the opportunity to engage students in classroom discussions about violence where the students express what they think should be done to change the culture of violence and are encouraged to make personal commitments to help reduce violence.
Judge Dwayne D. Woodruff, a judge in the juvenile division and his wife, Joy, serve as co-chairs of Allegheny County/Pittsburgh’s “Do the Write Thing Challenge.” They solicited the Steelers Art Rooney II and coach Mike Tomlin, Duquesne Law Dean Ken Gormley, County Executive Dan Onorato, Stephen Zappala, Kathleen Mulligan, Kim Berkeley Clark and Doug Shields to read and choose the best writings that were initially read and narrowed down by students from the University of Pittsburgh and Duquesne University School of Law.
Jazmyne and Angelo were awarded laptop computers courtesy of Highmark Blue Cross and will represent Pittsburgh as “National Ambassadors” to be honored this summer at the 2010 DtWTC National Recognition Week in Washington, D.C., where they will meet with national policymakers and discuss youth violence issues. In addition, their writings will be published and placed in the Library of Congress. Travel to D.C. will be courtesy of Southwest Airlines, the DtWTC national sponsor.
Local funding for the DtWTC program was provided by the ALCOA Foundation with sponsorship from Highmark Blue Cross, the Pittsburgh Steelers, Pittsburgh Pirates, Giant Eagle, Manchester Bidwell Corp. and the Allegheny County Courts. Offers of support and assistance are welcome by contacting: Judge Dwayne D. Woodruff, Family Law Center, 440 Ross St., Suite 5065, Pittsburgh, PA 15219, phone: 412 350-6281.