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Expressing oneself creatively can be nerve-wracking.

Alicia Valadez, who was the grand prizewinner for her Create Real Impact writing entry last year, said she never really knew she was good at writing. She cast her doubt aside to enter the contest though because she was inspired by the prospect of a $1500 educational grant (which she earned) and recognized the importance of the subject: stopping the number one killer of teens in America—reckless and distracted driving.

We are in the midst of a revolution to change the culture of driving to one that is distraction-free, and it needs young voices. Alicia Valadez chose to enter the contest because she recognized that need even before she herself was a licensed driver. As a passenger, it was easy to see that people were driving distracted, but was hard to understand why. “Why would people still try to multitask behind the wheel even knowing how dangerous it is?” she wondered.

Alicia realized the need to convey something beyond facts and statistics; she realized that people needed to feel an emotional connection in order to really change, so she wrote an evocative piece of fiction—a short story that is powerfully relatable to teens especially.

This emotionally gripping piece tells the story of a young girl driving across state lines to visit a friend, and the distractions that bring about unspeakable tragedy. The reader is privy to her romantic daydreams about the boy she likes, her abrupt reality-checks conveyed through the use of onomatopoeia, and her ultimate appeal to drive distraction-free.

Cast all your doubts aside about whatever talents you think you lack, and challenge yourself to choose a medium that intimidates you. Whether you choose to write a poem, make a movie, conduct a symphony, or paint a Fresco, you will not only be spreading life-saving messages, but also documenting an important time in our nation’s trajectory.

Remember, history is unfinished; culture is fluid. How will you shape the future?

Hello whoever is reading this. I'm not to spectacular at this whole writing thing, but regardless, here it goes.

So I'm 18 years old, a freshman in college, and just now going to set up a drivers exam for my license. Now I'm sure you, the reader, like many of my friends are wondering, "Why did you wait until you were 18 before taking your license test?" Well, first of all, no, my parents did not make waiting until you are 18 to get your drivers license a rule. It was my own decision to wait it out. My reasoning? Safety. I want to make absolute sure I know exactly what I'm doing on the road, not just for my own safety, but for the safety of all drivers that are on the road with me. It would be selfish of me to only consider what I am doing on the road, not taking into account all the other people on the road who have families, loved ones and life just like myself. It's not uncommon to get into an accident within the first year or two of having your license when you are a teen. I learned this early, not just from statistics or clever PSAs. Many people I know have gotten into accidents on the road, from fender benders to the car completely flipping over and even fatalities. For a few of them, I have even been in the passengers seat.

The one incident that affected me the most however is a car crash that a family friend of ours was in when I was a pre-teen. It resulted in him entering into a coma before passing away. That is what really shook me. I heard about these things happening on the news, or as a part of a statistic, but it never felt real to me up until that point. I realized how big a deal driving on the road really is. Because knowing the rules is not the only thing to consider, I also need to keep concentration on the road by not focusing on other things like texting and calling while driving. I never want to drive distracted. So I've pledged that I will never text or call on my phone while driving. Period. No text is so important that I am willing to risk my life, as well as the lives of others, just to read and answer. There is so much to consider when on the road, and I want to make sure I know exactly what I am doing at all times.

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