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Student Editorials Reflect Proactive Ways to "Be the Change"

Each November, Hampton Middle School students participate in the "Be the Change" event, where they learn about the many struggles facing others. Among the issues they explore firsthand include poverty, disease, hunger, homelessness and a lack of access to clean drinking water. Additionally, students write editorials addressing several of these world issues. Each year, a selection of these editorials are then chosen for publication by peers and teaching. The following were the editorials selected for this year. 

       A Bite of Death

 Four-year-old Gabriella feels feverish and will have to sleep when the mosquitoes come out at night. She doesn’t even know if she will wake up in the morning. Will Gabriella survive the night, or will she die from malaria? Malaria affects many people, especially children, and can often be fatal.

When a child misses school because of a little cold, he or she has not felt the real pain of a serious illness. Malaria is a horrifying disease. It’s caused by plasmodium, parasites that infect mosquitoes, which transmit the parasites when they bite us. This deadly disease is commonly found in Africa, South Asia, Central and South America, the Caribbean, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and Oceania. Many people can’t afford medicine to treat malaria and usually find themselves at death’s door.

Since it is hard to diagnose, it is challenging for people to know if they have malaria. Symptoms start to appear in 9-40 days. This includes high fevers, nausea, chills, anemia, and jaundice. Every year, malaria kills half a million victims. This illness is so devastating that a child dies every minute from this sickness. Who would've thought that a pesky mosquito could be so deadly?

However, there is a way to halt this killer. If we work together, we can rescue those innocent lives. You can make a difference by donating to charities such as Malaria No More and spreading awareness about malaria. Malaria No More can be accessed by going to the website www.malarianomore.org. There you can donate money to support their cause. People can get vaccinations and take medicine to prevent malaria. They can also spray insecticides in their homes to kill the infected mosquitoes; many individuals can’t afford to take these precautions and need our help. Don’t wait. Take action. Together we can stop this child killer.

~ Ailathyna W.

 

A Deadly Drink

The average American goes to the faucet, fills a glass with water, and then adds some lemon and mint to put in it. However, in some African countries, there are no faucets or water bottles; they are forced to drink muddy and contaminated water filled with fatal diseases. Approximately 780 million people across the globe lack access to sanitary drinking water.

 For American children, water is ten feet away; however, for many in other countries it is 3.1 miles away. On average, it takes four hours to collect water, and often it is the women’s job. Women travel through rough terrain every day, which can greatly affect their health. Girls as young as seven will make the treacherous journey to gather water, forcing them to give up any dream of achieving an education. The water gathered is as heavy as 70 pounds. Additionally, the water assembled is often very far from clean and filled with deadly bacteria. Clean water could mean a world of education for the girls who are forced to fetch water.

  Every minute, fifteen children die from drinking unsanitary water. Cholera, typhoid, diarrhea, and dehydration are the main reason for these tragic deaths. Correspondingly, in third world countries, their waste is dumped into a river or lake; thus, being their source of water, it transfers fatal illnesses to them. In fact, one in three people lack access to a toilet, a basic human need we cannot imagine living without. Safe drinking water would prevent many diseases that are killing 22,000 children every day.

  Stopping the water crisis will be difficult, yet we can solve it. A donation to The Water Project will build wells and give communities proper filtration systems throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. In fact, you can do your part by taking shorter showers and conserving the amount of water you use. Why shouldn’t those of us who have so much do something help those who have so little?

~ Katie C.

 

Siberia’s Green Christmas

  In the last 100 years the sea levels rose by seven inches, and they are estimated to rise even more soon. There are many cities in grave danger; millions could soon drown in the rising ocean. This can be traced back to global warming. If we don’t make global warming disappear, we will disappear.

  One of the main causes of global warming is car exhaust. It is estimated that more than 80% of car owners own a gas car. If everyone owned an electric or hybrid car and rode bikes to close places, we could slow global warming by more than 50% of it’s current rate. So the next time you buy a shiny, brand new car; remember to think about the fact that you are destroying your air when you turn on the ignition.

  Most people have a relative living in a coastal area. If you do, then you could be demolishing their homes. The emissions your car generates can and will travel across the globe; These gases will melt ice from the poles. This causes sea levels to rise and annihilate homes. In the last 100 years sea levels have risen more than the last 2,000 years combined.

  If we don’t take action, the world will take action on us. The Montana Glacier National Park has lost 125 glaciers in 100 years! Most of these losses are caused by people even you and me. Groups like 350.org can help people online, but Greenpeace has helped more than 50 million people in the past years. Why are people fighting over land when the oceans can take it away if we don’t fight for it?  So let’s go to battle for our world, whether it be on our computers or on another continent.

~ Gabriel J.

 

No Home for the Holidays

Earlier this year, a homeless man, Jerome Murdough, was arrested for trespassing in an apartment building because he was sleeping in a stairwell.  It’s really amazing how easily people can brush off someone’s suffering just because it isn’t their own issue. Homelessness is one of the fastest growing issues in America, and it is time to take a stand.

Homelessness is when an individual doesn’t have a home or shelter to live in. Sure, they could live at homeless shelters, but the sad reality is that only about 6% of homeless people have access to a shelter. This results to many having to call a tight, stuffy, sweltering car a home. Your room probably has about 1.5 times that amount of space in it- and that’s just one room for you specifically! Most homeless people have families, and that can be a struggle to jam everyone into a small vehicle to sleep in every night. And it happens every night of every year, while we are sleeping at home on a comfortable memory foam mattress under the covers.

In any given night in 2016, there are approximately 1.65 million homeless in America. That is a massive number most citizens can’t even comprehend! The entire city of Pittsburgh has a population of 8,050 people. There are more than TWICE as many homeless people in America than there are people living in the city and surrounding areas of Pittsburgh. Imagine everyone you’ve ever seen in the Pittsburgh area being homeless-and then some!

Homelessness is not a permanent issue; there are solutions. In fact, there are already organizations like World Vision and the National Coalition for the Homeless established to tackle the homeless epidemic in the U.S. You can aid them in literally SECONDS by going to their websites and donating to their righteous cause.  Every donation goes directly to buying food and building shelters for the less fortunate. Take a minute to lend out a hand to the homeless.

~ Adam T.

                                                                            

Refugees: No Home, With No Acceptance

Imagine you are stuck in line trying to buy new clothes; you could not be more frustrated. This is considered a difficult task for most Americans. Now imagine a family waiting in line for days trying to flee to a new country while their homes are being destroyed. Thousands of refugees every day go through unbelievable torment to escape death and destruction.

  Having to flee from their homes is just one of the countless problems displaced people face. Refugees are people who have to leave their homes to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster. Over 65.3 million people in the world have been pushed from their homes. They must relocate even if they can’t afford to, whether it be financially or because of family. They must live in camps without proper care for months or even years. Refugees can be found everywhere, yet no one seems to notice them.  

The number of asylum seekers in the world has increased tremendously in the past few years. Refugees flee everywhere they can get too; however, very few countries welcome them. Many go to local Middle Eastern countries like Lebanon, whose population has almost doubled in the past two years due to Syrian refugees. This small country has taken in 1.2 million sufferers. Many of the wealthier countries such as the UK and North America have taken in nothing compared to Lebanon. These statistics show not enough is being done for the displaced.

  Most refugees do not have basic necessities, but this can be solved. Many organizations assist these neglected people. In America, the Refugee Council USA aids refugees who resettle in the U.S. The UNHCR is a worldwide charity that lets victims resettle anywhere. These charities have options for people just like us to save them by donating, volunteering, and bringing awareness to the problem.  You can save these people from a life of unimaginable pain.

~ Tori D.

 

Hunger Can’t Wait

A mother walks into her dark hut with nothing but a bed and a rug in it, only to see that her child is dead. The cause of the child's death was hunger. World hunger is a huge problem, and it kills ten children every minute. But to stop it, and that has to start with you.

Imagine if you came home from school ready to get your snack, but there is one problem. You haven't had food in your house for three weeks. You are starving. This is the reality for people facing hunger. World hunger takes place mostly in Africa, having about 23 percent of the world's population on the verge of death because of hunger. Then comes Asia with about 12 percent of the world's population. Hunger is the leading cause of preventable deaths in the world. The word preventable should really stick out to you because hunger is preventable. Just giving children vitamin A could save 500,000 hungry children from dying. Think about that.

Imagine that you haven´t eaten for two months, and you are going to die any day now. You have reached out to a lot of organizations for food, but nobody will donate. One day later, your mom walks in and sees you dead because of something one person could have prevented. I guarantee that if one of your family members were about to die, in the United States, you would immediately go get food. Because in the United States, we have access to food wherever we go. But that is not the case for third and second world countries. People there can´t get food whenever they want. They are living in chronic hunger.

This all may seem sad, but we can stop people from living their everyday lives in hunger, one by one. You can help stop hunger by donating food and money to food drives and charitable organizations. Some organizations include Freedom for Hunger, Feeding America, and Action Against Hunger. Don´t think that hunger is just going to stop with one donation, though. You can also help by donating food to local food drives. This can sometimes be a faster and more effective way to get food to people in America.

Hunger kills so many people per year and is the leading cause of preventable deaths. Imagine a mother walks into her dark hut, with nothing but a bed and a rug in it, only to see that her child is sitting up in bed for the first time in 2 months because people donated food and money to save lives.

~ Breckin H.

 

 

Homelessness:  More Than What You See on the Surface

You are cold. You are tired. You are hungry. You are depressed. Those are just a few of the side effects of being homeless. Homelessness is more than not having a home; it is being in a state of hunger, poverty, disease, and many more problems all wrapped up into one big issue. Homelessness in America is a serious problem, and it can - and will - come to an end.

For some it is hard to imagine living on the streets or in tents under bridges, but for over 560,000 people in America, it is just a way of life. Being homeless means that your children may not get an education, your health declines, and you are constantly vulnerable. Becoming homeless means that children can be taken away from their families, and those children will most likely never see their families again.

Homeless people have to decide whether to buy a blanket to prevent hypothermia, or food to prevent starvation, while other people just have to decide how much creamer to put in their coffee. Things that many take for granted, unfortunately, would count as a blessing for a homeless person. Knowing this really makes you want to count your blessings, doesn’t it?

When someone sees a homeless person, his or her initial reaction is usually, “What did they do wrong?” It is that kind of thinking that causes the stereotypes that homeless people are lazy, and that they have no work ethic. Homelessness is most often caused by anything but the homeless person himself. Homelessness can be caused by horrible life occurrences, like the loss of loved ones and jobs, or domestic violence, divorce, and family disputes. It can also be caused by unpreventable things, such as mental illness and physical disabilities. After having your house demolished by an earthquake, you cannot just “bounce back.” You would have no place to go, which is why natural disasters are a common cause of homelessness. I hope that you never believe that homelessness is always caused by a homeless person.

Helping a homeless person may seem difficult, but it is worth the inconvenience of having to open the lid of your laptop. Helping a homeless person is as easy as donating to a charity like Homes for the Homeless or The Barefoot Foundation. You can do something as simple as pulling out your wallet and placing a dollar or two in that empty styrofoam cup with a cardboard sign next to it that reads, “Anything helps - God bless you,” because it is true, anything helps. Repay one of the tens of thousands of veterans who are homeless, who once risked their life for yours. That spare change could go a long way.

Fighting homelessness is as simple as taking action, and if more people took time to notice that, then homelessness would have already come to an end. Unfortunately, as Linda Lingle once said, “We have come dangerously close to accepting the homelessness situation as a problem that we just can't solve,” but not everyone has to think like that. 

~ Elizabeth J.

 

Hunger: The Silent Killer

You’re too full to eat anymore, and you throw away the rest of your meal into the garbage can. All different kinds of foods pile on top of each other, and before you know it, your garbage can is full in less than a week. America wastes 70 billion pounds of food each year. Meanwhile, in places all over the world, people are starving and about to die. Hunger is a major problem around the world, but everyone has the ability to help solve this problem.

Many people don’t have enough food to eat and are constantly hungry. Nearly 800 million people around the world are starving. Burundi, Ethiopia, Comoros, Haiti, and Madagascar are some countries that are majorly suffering from malnutrition. People can become hungry from many different causes. The main cause is poverty and others are food shortages, waste, discrimination, war, and climate change. Not only do people die from being hungry, but hunger also causes diseases like anemia, beriberi, pellagra, and scurvy. Hunger affects too many people, and it needs to stop.

Eating more than you need happens all the time for kids who always have food in their houses. However, other kids eat whatever is available, just so they can survive. For example, a 6-year-old boy named Nicholas was very poor, and he had to eat salt every day to survive. All this boy had was salt, yet people still eat much more food than needed. Many kids start to complain after being hungry for only an hour, but imagine being hungry all the time. A child dies every ten seconds from hunger. However, hunger does not only kill people, but it also affects the way they live. Undernourishment can affect the hope and overall well-being of a person.

World Hunger is a huge problem, but there are ways that we can solve it.  First of all, you can donate to food banks or organizations. Some great organizations are Food for the Poor and Stop Hunger Now. Food for the Poor is a Christian ministry that serves hungry people spiritually and collects donations. Stop Hunger Now has a mission to end hunger by providing food and aid to areas that need it the most. They operate meal packaging programs and collect donations. Another way to help end hunger is by volunteering for charities. Anyone can help save lives.

Our world has the ability to solve the awful problem of world hunger. But first, you need to ask yourself: Are you willing to help save the lives of hungry people around the world?

~ Ava F.

 

The New Plague

  It sweeps through like a tidal wave, killing those who stand in its path. It spreads and infects all creatures around it. It is ruthless, and almost none escape its wrath. This is Malaria. Malaria is a huge problem in impoverished areas as well as Southern continents. We can make a difference though. We can help.

  Millions of people are at risk every day and are dying from Malaria. Malaria is a disease that is spread by the plasmodium parasite. It infects mosquitoes and animals who spread it to us. It is most commonly found in Africa, Southeast Asia, India, and parts of Central America and South America. It is born in humid and tropical areas and usually found in extreme poverty. Nearly 3.5 billion people are at risk of Malaria - that’s half the world’s population.

  Even if you don’t get Malaria, you are permanently scarred. Countless families are torn apart because of this deadly disease. Five-year-old Mashaka’s mother was visited by Malaria. After a week, Mashaka’s mother passed. Because her father had died of pneumonia when she was two, Mashaka became an orphan. She had no other living relatives and had to live by herself. She could have died a week later, if not for a malaria organization that found her starving to death in her small cottage. This young girl was scared and lonely. Malaria is merciless.

   Although Malaria is catastrophic, in the past few years, it has become a preventable tragedy. Many organizations such as Malaria No More, Nothing But Nets, and the CDC collect and donate medications, supplies, and money to those who are suffering from Malaria. They use the money donated to buy medicines that save lives. These medications have a higher chance of fending of the parasite. Not only do the organizations buy medicine, they also buy insecticide treated nets that help prevent the mosquitoes from biting. Many churches or religious groups also raise money to donate or host trips to Africa to help these suffering people. You can help by contributing today.

  Although Malaria has become a worldwide problem, it has also become an avoidable one. People are taking action and extending a helpful hand to these people. From organizations to group trips to Africa, Malaria is decreasing at a steady rate. You can help by donating today.

~ Crystal M.

 

Poverty

  Poverty is unimaginable, scary, and it kills many every day. Yet, we do nothing to stop it. Poverty is something no one should have to suffer from.

  Poverty may not be right in your neighborhood, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a large issue that needs to be addressed. Poverty is a time when you are very poor and lack the ability to meet your basic needs. Approximately 80 percent of people worldwide live on less than $10 per day. Imagine if that were you. You probably spend more than $10 just getting groceries everyday! These people have to drag out that very same amount to meet their family’s needs for a whole 24 hours. About 300,000 pregnancies are unsuccessful every year because of poverty. Just try to put yourself in that position. You have so many memories, friends, family, and more. These children never even got a fighting chance to make memories or make friends, meet their family. Even worse, imagine the mother. She never got to meet her child and feels responsible for the child’s death. In reality, poverty played the largest role in the loss of their child, and there is nothing the mother could have done to change that. The mother will carry that guilt with her everywhere.

  Your mom tucks you into a warm bed in a nice house. You have a full stomach and a family that is right down the hall. You go to bed knowing that there is a child much like you that had everything that you have ripped out of their hands. You go to bed knowing that 22,000 people died today because they have the opposite of what you have. Nearly 165 million children experience reduced growth and development while you get taller and stronger everyday. Some 3 million young lives are taken every year due to poverty, and you’re glad it’s not you. What if you weren’t getting taller and stronger? What if you were at risk of becoming one of the 3 million lives lost this year? Would you act then? By waking up and doing something, you can change that little boy or girl's life. It’s their turn to get taller and stronger; it’s their turn to avoid death. All it takes is our help.

  Poverty is awful, but there are ways to help. “Sponsor A Child” shows you what the child has been through and then you have the opportunity to sponsor them. It would mean more than the world to them, and you would be the reason. You can donate to food banks and charities to help the young and old lives. You can also think about not wasting your own resources. Every time you throw something away, there is a child that would have appreciated having it. Think about that.

  Poverty needs to come to an end, and we can take action to stop it. People fight every day to save our country, so what kind of battle will you put up to save someone’s world?

~ Bailey W.

 

Empty Stomachs and Human Misery

You know only of a full, steaming hot plate sitting in front of you at every meal. But what you don’t know is that over 7 million children a year die an excruciating death because they are not fortunate enough to have what you do.

What would you do if you looked over and saw a tiny, trembling child, ribs almost poking out of their skin, their big eyes begging you for the tiniest crumb? You probably cannot even imagine what it feels like to not have enough food. You are dizzy. You have a headache. Your stomach is as empty. You cannot think straight, let alone concentrate, and you have some serious nausea. Every ten seconds, a child is taken from his or her family by hunger.

  Hunger is found in every country on earth. Half of all the deaths under the age of five are because of hunger. Imagine losing a younger sibling, cousin, child, or loved one to this horrible thing. That is how so many people feel. In 2010, 7.6 million kids died, and most of us did nothing about it. Sixty percent of hungry people are women. If one of those women decides to have a child, that child will most likely be undernourished.

   Believe it or not, you can do something to stop this abhorrent problem. Some organizations like AARP, Feeding America, Generations United, and Meals on Wheels accept food or funds. An organization named UNICEF even reduced children’s preventable deaths by 40 percent. You can go to websites like freerice.com and answer all sorts of questions to donate supplies like rice or flour to people in need.

  When you decide to be the change and stop hunger, you are helping millions all around the world. Now imagine money or food you donated or will donate ending up saving a family’s life and giving them a meal for the night. Like Dr. Norman Ernest Borlaug once said, “You can’t build a peaceful world on empty stomachs and human misery.”

~ Kai H.

 

 

Posted by berg in Middle School, Student Editorials, Be the Change Day on Wednesday January, 18, 2017 at 10:02AM
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