Queens and Long Island high school students are being urged to enter an essay contest that aims to combat bullying against people with autism and developmental disabilities.
Students in grades 9 to 12 enrolled in public or private schools in Nassau or Suffolk counties as well as Queens are eligible to compete for the $4,000 first-place prize, $3,000 second-place award or $2,000 third-place winner.
“I hope that this essay question will motivate more critical thinking, constructive ideas, and perhaps, solutions,” said Peter Klein, president of The Claire Friedlander Family Foundation, which is hosting the contest along with Life’s WORC, a Garden City-based nonprofit that assists individuals with developmental disabilities.
The foundation Klein leads was created by the late Claire Friedlander, a Holocaust victim who immigrated from Nazi Germany to the U.S. Life’s WORC was founded by Victoria Schneps-Yunis, owner of Schneps Media, the parent company of the Queens Courier and QNS.com.
The question that the essay contest poses is: How can I lead my school and community to become a bully-free place for individuals with autism and developmental disabilities?
“Sadly, there is a crisis with acts of bullying and thoughtless, irresponsible conduct which targets people with developmental disabilities and autism,” Klein said. “How can schools and communities help to bring about new social improvements and an end to this form of prejudice and intolerance?”
The contest has drawn about 500 essays over the past four years. Essays must be between 400 and 500 words and postmarked no later than May 1, 2020. Winners will be announced June 5.
Judges will be Northville Industries Corp. CEO Dr. Gene Bernstein, Kelly Mcmasters, Asst. Professor of English and Publishing Studies Director at Hofstra University, Lauren Resnick, a Speech Language Pathologist at Up Wee Grow, Inc., and Lynne Koufakis, chair of Life’s WORC and The Family Center for Autism.
For more information, visit lifesworc.org