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Life Lessons: Teens finding their voice

By Nancy Werteen, Anchor / Reporter, NWerteen@wfmz.com
Published On: Apr 04 2013 04:00:00 AM CDT

Life Lessons Teens finding their voice

What happens in the next 24 hours could change your teenager's life.

In the next 24 hours, 1,400 teens will attempt suicide and 15,000 will use drugs for the first time.

In the next 24 hours, 3,500 teens will run away and 2,700 teenage girls will get pregnant.

These are very scary statistics for any parent. But we found a group of teens who have found a voice for themselves in helping others.

All of these teens have faced their own problems from joining gangs to addiction to abuse. But they found their voice in a writing project.

Fourteen teenagers found power and regained control of themselves by sharing their stories in a book called, We Are Absolutely Not OK!

Margie Bowker is a high school English teacher who put the book together. She was surprised by the power of the book and how her kids reacted to it.

Marjie says, "I've been teaching 16 years and I've never seen kids so passionate."

By chance, she came upon Ingrid Ricks' book, Hippy Boy; a story about her own abusive home life. The author shared her story and inspired the kids to write their own stories.

Ricks say writing helps by giving kids the tools to "claim your power by finding your voice and sharing your stories."

The stories too amazing to be kept inside the halls of one school became an e-book and then was published. The teenagers whose stories were featured say the experience was life changing.

"When I was writing it, it was a really, really emotional process because I've never talked about it," says Miranda Esau, one of the contributors.

Now, students like Carolina Moody, who had an abusive father, are mentoring a new class of aspiring authors.

"What we realized is not only were we helping ourselves by writing it, we were also helping other people," says Carolina.

Author Ingrid Ricks encourages all teenagers to put their feelings into words. She say, "Look, don't be sick as an adult. I mean get this out now and address this now, so you can have an incredible life."

Marjie Bowker agrees, "We just really see it as a way to really create meaning and, you know, that's what education should be."

Students like Tebra Draper says, "It changed my life, gave me a new perspective. It saved me."

All proceeds from the book go back into the writing program.

The author has a website for other teens to tell their story. You can find it at www.weareabsolutelynotok.org.

Tough world for teens