By Denise Dick
East High School’s Destination Imagination Team’s mission is twofold: help bring a stop to teen violence and provide warmth to those who need it.
“We want young people to use their hands to help, rather than hurt, one another,” said Jeanne Constantino, East’s DI team manager.
Saturday is Make a Difference Day, and East students are inviting teens, parents and other community members to help make blankets from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the school cafeteria.
The DI team is calling the project “Hand in Hand, Together We Can, Help Stop Teen Violence.”
The blankets will be distributed later to the homeless — through the schools, Dorothy Day House and other organizations. A grant provided money to buy materials to make the blankets.
“We hope to continue it once a month,” Constantino said.
She said Holly Seimetz, East principal, has been supportive of the project. A city police officer is expected at the Saturday event to answer teens’ questions, and area pastors have been invited.
Destination Imagination is an educational-challenge competition in which students employ creativity and teamwork to solve problems. In the category the East team chose, students have to identify a community need and devise a strategy to address it.
Besides homelessness, the students chose teen violence as something needing addressed in the community. Many of the city’s recent homicide victims have been teens.
That hits home for the high-school students, the team manager said.
Senior Destiny Hardy, 18, knew Joshua Davis, 17, who was killed last month. They were more acquaintances than friends, but she’d known him since eighth grade.
Twenty-year-old Tequon Sharpe, who was shot and killed earlier this month in his home, was a distant relative by marriage to Destiny, too.
The violent deaths of two people that she knows both saddened and scared the East senior. That’s why she thinks the blanket project is so important.
“It’s important because it will get people off the streets,” she said.
Junior Lisiyaidilly Flores, 16, believes the project fulfills a need by providing warmth to people who would otherwise go cold.
Sophomore Nalaysha Hillman, 15, agreed.
“It’s important to help people out,” Nalaysha said. “When you need help, you want people to be there to help you out.”
Sophomore Markie Scott, 16, likes to help others.
“One day it could be you or someone who’s a friend or related to you,” he said.