As the WDRC Youth Program Specialist, I am continuing a long legacy of strengthening our community through youth education. One of my first projects was working on the Peaceful Poetry Youth Contest. After receiving over 90 poems from youth in the community our selection committee chose our 5 winners. One of these was 4th-grader Robyn at Lummi Nation School.
When I contacted Robyn's teacher Alana, I was not prepared for the praise she had in store. As a new teacher she had struggled to get her students inspired to write. Before the school year started, she saw a poster for the Peaceful Poetry Youth Contest. She decided her first writing assignment would be to write a poem for the contest. She shared a few example poems - like Shel Silverstein - and then let them create whatever they pleased. She was shocked by the response. Each student had written a poem and was proud of it! Those students continue to write on their own and excitedly tell Alana when they write something new at home. Alana shared, "Your poetry contest inspired writing for my class this year. After working on poems for your contest, all they want to do is write!"
I later learned that Robyn's principal at the Lummi Nation School had been the newsbearer to the class about Robyn's winning poem. The class was full of celebration and Robyn was glowing all day long.
Robyn's poem titled "The Truth"
There is always the truth behind every "Just kidding."
There is a lot of knowledge behind every "I don't know."
There is a little pain behind every "It's okay.”
Robyn recited her poem out loud - along with 4 other youth winners - to more than 300 guests, including her teacher, principal, and family, at the WDRC 14th Annual Peace Builder Awards Gala.
You can watch Robyn and the other poetry contest winners, as well as our 2016 Peace Builder Award recipients, in this video of the 14th Annual Peace Builder Awards Gala.
- Daniel Soloff, AmeriCorps Youth Program Specialist