The Andover Townsman
---- — Three young Andover writers were recognized as winners of the New England Disability Awareness Essay Contest.
They were three of the 13 elementary and middle school students from the New England area who were honored this week for submitting winning essays to the New England essay contest.
Third-graders Kyle Wolff and Nikita Bjaj earned first and third place honors, respectively. Sixth-grader Katie Nam earned third place honors for her essay.
The contest was hosted by Social Security Disability Help. To enter, students in grades two through six were asked to write an essay describing how someone with a disability has inspired them.
Wolff chose to write about his friend Matt. His winning essay describes Matt’s struggles and triumphs with autism.
Wolff writes, “Matt inspires me because his life can be unfair sometimes, but he keeps trying and never gives up.” Wolff has chosen to donate his winning prize money to Autism Speaks, an autism science and advocacy organization.
Bjaj earned a third-place honor for her essay titled, “My Friend, Mr. Verrette.” Mr. Verrette, who has been blind since birth, often visits Bjaj’s classroom to, “read stories with his fingers.”
Nam, a sixth grade student at West Middle School, also earned third place honors for her essay, “Never Give up on Getting Better.”
Rather than focus on one inspiring individual, Nam took a broader approach and wrote about developing an accepting attitude towards all people affected by disabilities. She writes, “Even though people with disabilities seem different, we need to accept and honor everyone as we are all unique, from all situations.”
According to Social Security Disability Help, an informational website, the New England Disability Awareness Essay Contest was designed to promote disability awareness among elementary school students.
A release states, “It is our belief that by asking children at an early age to reflect on people with disabilities, the child is more likely to develop a lifelong understanding and respect for those who are disabled. The essay contest was a huge success and each essay we received was truly inspiring.”
The winning essays can be read on the Social Security Disability Help Blog. Visit socialsecurity-disability.org.