Young authors tackle important subject


Lights are being strung on windows and trees, decorations of all kinds are adorning porches, Christmas music is playing, and the beauty of Delaware County is hard to beat as you drive around this holiday season! During the month of December, I often find myself reminiscing over the past 12 months. Okay, more like lamenting, where has time gone?! As I look back, I beam with pride thinking about the accomplishments of the office, and you all know we are not done yet! This month though I want to take a break from the courtroom and highlight three very special youth in our county. As you know, I am very committed to drug prevention and education for our youth, and Monday we are wrapping up one of our new initiatives with a young-author book signing at Beanbag Books!

Earlier this summer, I reintroduced you to the Schiffel’s Safety Scholars Summer Reading program and the contests our office was hosting to involve our youth in drug prevention and education during the summer months. You might have even driven by Sadie Z.’s winning billboard on London Road and Sheldon Street during August. In the first two years of Schiffel’s Safety Scholars, we were surprised to discover the scarcity of educational books available to younger children about drugs and alcohol. To make matters worse, the books we actually were able to find were either not engaging or just plain cringeworthy. A mother myself, I felt very disappointed in this lack of resources because I truly believe that prevention education should begin at the elementary school-age level.

We scoured book shelves to find the perfect conversation starter for parents and their young kids — and the best we could come up with was a mouse. As a result of my discouragement, we came up with an idea to try to “bridge the gap” for the youth here in Delaware County and began the “You Be the Author” contest. This contest encouraged our county’s children to write their own book about drug prevention and/or the dangers of drug and alcohol use, with the idea being that we could share their creations in upcoming years during Schiffel’s Safety Scholars and summer reading.

The contest was open to all children in Delaware County, and the winners have finally been chosen! Using money forfeited by drug traffickers that have come through our office to be prosecuted, our office published the three young author’s books by local printer, MailPro 1. And on Tuesday, Dec. 6, at 5 p.m., we will be honoring the three winners with a celebration and their very own book signing at Beanbag Books! Our budding authors are Emma D. who wrote “The Story of Drugs and Alcohol,” Reese F. who wrote “Stay Strong,” and Addie B. who wrote “Don’t Do Drugs.” On top of very compelling stories, each of these authors also illustrated their own books and we cannot wait to share them!

Beanbag Books is located at 25 W. Winter St. in downtown Delaware, and the book signing will take place from 5-6 p.m. I would love to have you all come out and support these promising, young writers on their special day! If you are available, or even if you are just out and about downtown on Tuesday evening, please pop into Beanbag Books and congratulate these talented youngsters! Who knows, you could be in the presence of a budding famous author!

By Melissa A. Schiffel

Contributing columnist

Melissa A. Schiffel is Delaware County prosecutor.

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