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Smart Woman - Teens Finding Their Voice

A book helps students at a Washington high school for at-risk teens to speak out and overcome their problems.

    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 2,700 teen girls will become pregnant. In the next 24 hours, 1,500 teenagers will use drugs for the first time and 3,500 teens will run away. They are scary stats, but a group of teens who faced their very adult problems and found a voice to help themselves and help others.
    Fabian Vazquez said he wanted to join a gain. Brendon Klein, who is a gay transgender, said his story is about "coming out to my dad as a gay, transgender man." "I used, I smoke, I drank" said recovering addict Tebra Draper. Miranda Esau, who was abused by her stepfather, said "I never thought I would regain what he's taken from me, but I did." All of these teens have faced their problems and found their voice.
    Fourteen teenagers found power and regained control of their lives by sharing their stories in this book, "We Are Absolutely Not OK!" Marjie Bowker said "I've been teaching 16 years and I've never seen kids so passionate." Bowker is the only English teacher at Scriber Lake High School outside of Seattle,a last chance place for at-risk kids. She also say that she feels the system has failed these kids. Bowker by chance 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" is advice Ricks has for troubled teens.
    The stories were too amazing to be kept inside the halls of one school. They became an e-book, and then were published. Miranda Esau said when she was writing her story was a "really, really emotional process because I've never talked about it." Now students like Carolina, whose suffered abuse, are mentoring a new class of aspiring authors. Carolina Moody, who had an abusive father,said "what we realized is not only were we helping ourselves by writing it, we were also helping other people." Ingrid Ricks added "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" said Marjie Bowker. Tebra Draper added "it changed my life, gave me a new perspective. It saved me."

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