TO BE GIVEN A CHANCE
By Morgan Chatterton, 10th grade, Highland High School
Hello Gov. Cox and Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson. Hope you are doing well.
There are two main issues in our community: homeless people who need to be given a chance, and plastic waste. According to the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, “As of January 2020, Utah had an estimated 3,131 experiencing homelessness on any given day.”
These are people that we have an obligation to help. Right now, the Utah housing market has increased around 28%, and costs for lumber and building materials has also grown around 26%. This means people who are homeless will stay homeless because they cannot afford to build or buy a house.
Another problem is the amount of plastic waste put into Utah’s landfills. Our landfills receive about eight million pounds of plastic a day. That is a major issue. One way we can combat both issues is to build small housing units that utilize plastic in our landfills as building materials.
We can give grants to local artists and architects to make blueprints of the housing units and create more jobs to help these artists. When I researched building with recycled plastic, I found that other people have already done it, but on a small scale and not in the United States.
One process of building with plastic was created by a man in Norway. His process is to shred plastic and mix it with other non-flammable materials. This process can build a 60 square-meter house and recycle eight tons of plastic.
Another method is from a company called plastic concepts created by Fernando Llanos and Óscar Méndez, where they make Lego-shaped blocks. They were able to create houses for 42 families, while also recycling 200 tons of plastic. The houses that they made were also earthquake resistant.
In the end, if we could create a similar housing project in Utah, it would help local artists, the homeless, create more jobs, and recycle plastic. We would help many people and solve two issues with one idea. Thank you for your time.
IT MEANS A LOT
By Amaiah Garcia, 9th grade, West Point Jr. High
Dear Governor Cox,
I hope everything is going great with you. I would say an important issue not only in my school community but in every community is bullying. Bullying is when an individual is seeking harm to someone or to intimidate someone. Here are some varieties of bullying; verbal bullying, physical bullying, cyber bullying, gesture bullying and exclusion bullying. All these types of bullying are so wrong; they make you feel like you’re sad and make you feel isolated.
I have been bullied a lot, and the first year it was by this big group of boys cornering me and throwing snowballs at me. I told the principal, but nothing was done to punish them. In 8th grade, the same boys found out I had an eating disorder and would make fun of me for it. I went to my math teacher, but she did not take it seriously. This year I was bullied about my dad leaving and this time I didn’t go to any adult. I didn’t go because I didn’t want to be unheard, I felt like I was wasting their time. This needs to change and needs to change now.
It will stop by having administration get better training on comforting the student. This training will help a lot of students feel safer and comfortable at school. We can make videos of people who were bullies, and they can talk about how being a bully affected them and where it got them. This would be an eye opener for the bullies because it would make them realize where they are going if they keep on bullying people. There should be more resource officers.
I know if it wasn’t for Officer Coon, I don’t know where I would be today. He realized that I was hurting, he called me down to his office and let me let all my emotions out to him. This helped me so much, I was on the verge of not even coming to school, but just with him being there for me made me feel so much safer at this school.
We need more training for the school administrators Governor Cox, we need more people like Officer Coon. Thanks for taking this into consideration, it means a lot.
By Kai Smith, 10th grade, Spanish Fork High School
Dear Governor Cox and Lt. Governor Henderson,
In the community of Spanish Fork, we have been through some devastating deaths due to suicide in the last couple of years; four to be exact. Let me tell you a personal story.
One of my best friends throughout seventh and eighth grade was an African American girl with one of my favorite personalities. I would always hangout with her and get to know her family, too! I loved spending time with her and was completely devastated when I received the word that her older brother had committed suicide. I had not known her brother very well but when I saw how it broke my best friend’s heart, I realized what it feels like to endure losing someone. The following day when going to school, I saw her, my best friend, eyes still puffy, and a group of people around her. After waiting in line for what felt like hours just to talk to Taytum, I looked into her eyes and burst into tears. I don’t think I would ever cry in a million years at school.
The next months were cold but as a community, we moved on with Mateen Lomax in our heart. But as the year went on… Two more innocent souls were lost to suicide. Now that you have been informed of some of Spanish Fork’s most cataclysmic stories, let me give some suggestions of how you can help!
One of the most important subjects to discuss is the importance of inclusion. Oftentimes people think of bullying as just pushing or teasing or making fun of, when really, exclusion makes people feel unwanted, uncared for, and honestly… worthless.
The second suggestion is harder to accomplish. Every day, I see examples of racism, judgments based on gender, and other antagonizing political views that tear communites apart. Please do all you can to provide aid to either side of political barriers — no matter what your personal civil standards happen to be
How can you help? You can help by requiring more interactive activities in school and require videos and movies for all students in Utah to watch at school. This should definitely help students who struggle and students who could learn to give a little more, to get along.
Thank you for taking the time to read this message,
TO HEAR EVERY SINGLE VOICE
By Mercy Smith, 12th grade, Timpview High School
Governor Cox and Lieutenant Governor Henderson,
Truth is often found in the middle. This is a principle observed across disciplines: in chemistry, where atom structure is a composite of every possible electron arrangement; in history, where various historians’ perspectives inform the interpretation of an event; and in our communities, where true progress happens amidst a vibrant marketplace of colliding cultural, political, and societal ideas.
The issue is, in my home city of Provo, and across our state and our country as a whole, we have heard a one-sided narrative for too long. White voices overshadow black voices. Male voices overshadow female voices. Straight voices overshadow queer voices. And although significant progress towards equality has been made in recent years, the problem persists. We too often hear a single story, and this one-dimensional view leads to a skewed perception of the issues facing our community, subsequently stunting community growth. As such, Provo and the entire state both need more avenues through which marginalized people and groups can voice their opinions, ideas, and concerns.
Perhaps the creation of such new avenues seems primarily a governmental responsibility. After all, those in positions of political authority have direct power to create widespread change. However, my generation of talented young people has its own incredible potential to transform both local and national singular narratives. We are a colorful, dynamic, diverse group. We can lead the continued fight for inclusivity. We may not be able to pass laws or develop new policies, but we can still work to amplify every person’s voice. We can support minority-led organizations, projects, and businesses with our time and money. We can make our own voices heard by voting for inclusive policies. We can actively encourage the government to create more ways for marginalized voices to be heard, whether by establishing a new spot on city council, giving more leadership positions to minorities, or providing funding for existing organizations and startups.
When we listen to every perspective, every story, we come so much closer to our eventual goal of complete equality and inclusivity. When marginalized voices are heard, when platforms of privilege amplify their messages, we learn how to make our community a safe, happy place for everyone.
If Provo, and the rest of Utah, is to become an inclusive home for all of us, we need to hear every single voice. Let’s start listening today.