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Gallaudet Univeristy
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1st Place Essay Winner: 15-19 Age Group

"That Power Inside of Me"

Megan Bean
South Rowan High School
China Grove, NC

For a young woman who is affected by both neuropathy and visual impairment as well as hearing impairment, assistance and inspiration may seem easier to receive than to give. However, everyone, from the "least" to the greatest, has something to contribute to their world and community and a means by which to give it. For me, that means, among others, is the art of writing.

I have been writing poetry and prose since I was in elementary school but became particularly earnest during my middle school years. While writing may seem an unlikely way to help others or make a difference, a single poem or essay can have a lot of speaking power. A written work can encourage, inspire, refresh, entertain, provoke, or spark a debate. It can communicate problems and call for action, or express emotions that draw people together and encourage them in their own similar struggles. I have already put many of my poems, which are mostly Christian or spiritual in nature, on the back of my church's bulletins and have written some for friends or community members as a means of encouragement; I have also written letters to a newspaper, two presidents, a member of the General Assembly, and a few congress members to express my views and advocate support for certain legislation, such as a state bill for continued provision of funds for the Carolina Children's Communicative Disorders Program. I have also written some poems for the therapeutic horseback riding center where I ride and even submitted their new mission statement. In the future I hope to continue these forms of ministry as well as to publish inspirational collections of poetry and possibly write articles for the newspaper. My goal in writing is to express ideas that I hope will challenge others to live their lives more fully and question the standards and values of today's superficial, self-gratifying culture. With my fingers at my keyboard and God's power inside of me, I believe I can produce something that will change my world for the better.

Although writing is a strength, it is not my only means of making a difference in my community. Through my church, and my school's FFA and National Honors Society, I have participated in many service projects and hope to continue doing so. My church performs annual bell-ringing for the Salvation Army, holds a Back-to-School Block Party to hand out school supplies for neighborhood children, hosts Vacation Bible School, and collects shoeboxes for Samaritan's Purse, among other activities. Besides helping out in these areas, I also participate in the annual church cleanup and may volunteer for a church office when I am older. Through the National Honors Society and FFA, I participate in various fundraisers and service projects such as the Angel Tree, canned food drives, a fruit sale, and a volunteer yard work project. In the future, I hope to continue sponsoring the FFA and my school by sponsoring FFA activities, making donations, and providing work opportunities at the horse-training business I plan to operate when not writing. I may also run for political office or assist in some way at the ranch where I ride. With dedication, the opportunities are limitless.

Whatever I do and wherever I go, I know that I can always find some way to change the lives of those around me in my own unique way, whether it be through writing or otherwise. Poetry or canned beans, stories or shoeboxes - anything can be used by God for His divine purpose. Today's world needs every ounce of compassion and encouragement it can get.