YWP: Remembering the Kindnesses of Strangers

Age 15, Bradford, Vt.
Monday, April 30, 2018

Young Writers Project is an independent nonprofit based in Burlington that engages middle and high school students from anywhere in the world to write, to express themselves with confidence and clarity, and to connect with authentic audiences. YWP publishes student writing every week in newspapers; through YWP’s website, youngwritersproject.org, and monthly digital magazine, The Voice; before live audiences; and with other media partners, including vtdigger.org and vpr.net. YWP is supported by this newspaper and foundations, businesses and individuals who recognize the power and value of writing.

This week’s prompt: Kindness. What is the nicest thing a stranger has ever done for you? And general writing.


By Kelly Daigle

Age 15, Bradford, Vt.

My family used to have an old tradition of visiting Hampton Beach in New Hampshire at the peak of summer, with another family I grew up with. As a child, this was a day I looked forward to. There were long walks on the boardwalk, the small beaded chokers that I was (for some reason) obsessed with, the half-built sandcastles, and perhaps the most exciting of all — the seashells. We would spend hours wandering the shoreline looking for them.

It was this last activity that got me in trouble. When I was around 4 years old, I was searching for the little colorful husks, completely immersed, with my eyes glued to the sand. It was only when I found one and turned to show it to Mom that I realized I was alone. Alone… as in surrounded by hundreds of strangers and no one I knew in sight.

Now, if you have ever been lost as a child, you will agree with me when I say that this is one of the most frightening things that can ever happen to you.

I was on the verge of tears, wandering around and looking for a familiar face, when I heard a voice say, “Are you lost, honey?” I turned to see a middle-aged woman in a red one-piece and sunglasses peering down at me.

“I’m not supposed to talk to strangers,” I replied quietly. Yes, even when I was 4, I knew that overused yet useless line that adults always tell their children.

“Don’t worry, I’ll just help you find your mommy. What does she look like?”

Finding at least a little solace in this mother-like woman, I explained my situation and described my mother to her. In no time at all, we found her and I fell into my mother’s arms. I was too young to know to say thank you, but I remember my mother saying it at least a dozen times.

I am still grateful to that stranger today, and wish I could thank her when my 4-year-old self didn’t feel the need to.

Day at the Beach

By Hayley Thurston

Age 15, Bradford, Vt.

My family and I always go to Maine for our annual summer vacation. A few years ago, we went to Wells Beach. It was a nice day and we wanted to swim in the ocean.

My sister and I went to the bathroom to change into our bathing suits. There was a long line, and we had to wait for about 10 minutes. When it was our turn, we each went to get changed. I was done first so I waited outside the bathroom for my sister.

While I was waiting, the girl that had used my stall right after me came out with my phone in her hand. Though she was a complete stranger, she asked if it was mine. The girl could have just taken my phone, put it in her pocket and walked off with it. But she didn’t. She was a nice, honest person and wanted to do the right thing by returning the phone to its owner.

Keep us Children Safe

By Eamon Deffner

Age 15, Thetford

We’ve see videos of kids like us on both sides: some support gun control and some don’t want any restrictions on guns. But before we talk about the solution to the problem, we must first fully understand what this is all about.

This issue is about teenagers not being killed at their schools. Schools are a place where kids are supposed to have problems — but none that kill them! Adding restrictions may help keep guns out of the wrong hands, but there are already too many guns available to dangerous people. So are we supposed to accept that students can get killed, and there is nothing we can do about it?

Slowing the sale of semi- and fully automatic weapons is just one problem. Another is finding a way to educate gun owners, so that they understand the power of the weapons they own.

Let’s make sure that we do something before more kids are killed, and no more lives are ended simply because we’re afraid to upset a few people.