Teens find their voice by sharing stories in book

Published On: Feb 13 2013 10:07:31 PM EST   Updated On: Feb 14 2013 07:00:00 AM EST

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

In the next 24 hours, 1,400 teens will attempt suicide. In the next 24 hours, 2,700 teen girls will become pregnant. In the next 24 hours, 15,000 teenagers will use drugs for the first time; 3,500 teens will run away.

They are scary stats and we talked to a group of teens who faced their very adult problems and found a voice to help themselves and help others.

All of these teens have faced their problems.

“I wanted to join a gang,” said Fabian Vazquez.

“My story is about coming out to my dad as a gay, transgender man,” explained Brendon Klein.

“I used, I smoke, I drank,” said Tebra Draper, a teen addict.

And all of these teens have found their voice.

“I never thought I would regain what he’s taken from me, but I did,” said Miranda Esau, who was abused by her step father.

Fourteen teenagers who found power and regained control of their lives by sharing their stories in this book, We Are Absolutely Not OK!

“I’ve been teaching 16 years and I’ve never seen kids so passionate,” said Marjie Bowker, an English teacher.

Bowker is the only English teacher at Scriber Lake High School outside of Seattle, a last chance place for at-risk kids.

“The system has failed them,” said Bowker.

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

“Claim your power by finding your voice and sharing your stories,” suggested author and mentor Ingrid Ricks.

The stories too amazing to be kept inside the halls of one school became an e-book, and then was published.

“When I was writing it, it was a really, really emotional process because I’ve never talked about it,” said Esau.

Now students who suffered abuse, are mentoring a new class of aspiring authors.

Carolina Moody, who had an abusive father, explained that, “What we realized is not only were we helping ourselves by writing it, we were also helping other people.”

A lesson in writing, a lesson for life.

Ricks advised, “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.”

“We just really see it as a way to really create meaning and, you know, that’s what education should be,” Bowker said about the project.

“It changed my life, gave me a new perspective. It saved me,” said Draper.

All the proceeds from the book go back into the writing program, and Ingrid and Marjie are expanding it. They’ve been contacted by schools around the country and have a website for other teens to tell their story. You can find it at weareabsolutelynotokay.org.  You can also find them on Facebook at Facebook.com/WeAreAbsolutelyNotOkay.


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