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Example 1: Writing a letter in favor of a proposed action

To the Editor of The Herald:

The U.S. House of Representatives has recently proposed a law (H.R. no. 396) that will ban the sale of cigarettes from vending machines. This is a landmark piece of legislation that everyone in our community should support right now.

Many people don't realize it, but vending machines are one of the main places that children are able to purchase cigarettes. In fact, it is estimated that 10% of all cigarettes purchased by minors take place at these machines. If this new legislation goes into effect, it will not only make it more difficult for youth to break the law by buying cigarettes, it will lower the chances of young people smoking in the first place

There are many reasons (besides the legal ones) why we should try to curb smoking by our children. 1) Research shows that most people who smoke started when they were underage. 2) Many people fear that smoking cigarettes serves as a "gateway" to harder drugs. 3) Smoking is a very expensive addiction (particularly for a teen who makes minimum wage) And, finally, 4) smoking can cause many life-shortening or fatal health problems (such as lung cancer and emphysema). Our young people would not smoke before they are really able to understand or accept the long-term consequences.

The vending-machine bill has been proposed, but now it needs to be passed. Your voice will count here. We encourage you to write or call the representative for your district (for those of us in District 8, that's Congresswoman Fisher) and let her know that you support her as she tries to get this legislation passed. The more support she gets, the more likely it is that this bill will become law. Contact Tobacco Free Youth for further information about this important issue.


Jonathan Friedman, Director
Tobacco Free Youth
123 Forest Road

Example 2: Writing a letter opposing a proposed action

To the editor of the Lawrence Journal World:

Bulldozers began moving dirt last week at Lawrence High School and the Centennial Virtual School, but city commissioners and school district officials have been bulldozing this community for months with an athletic facilities expansion plan that is fiscally irresponsible, unnecessarily redundant and probably illegal. Our elected officials have misled the public, violated zoning codes and set taxpayers up for a $10.3 million loan that will take 10 years to pay off and cost taxpayers $2.25 million in interest.

Why was the public repeatedly told that this project could be built with leftover bond money when those funds don’t even represent a third of the proposed budget?

Why is it necessary to build two separate football stadiums at a cost of $4 million?

Why is it inconceivable to parents that both teams could play in a shared stadium at FSHS? The situation would be no different than it is in swimming, where both schools compete at the Indoor Aquatic Center.

Why are city commissioners allowing the school district to build a stadium for 4,000 spectators at LHS without also requiring the district to provide the 1,300 parking spaces required by city zoning ordinances?

Why did the school district repeatedly assert that the proposed facilities would only disrupt neighbors a few nights a year when it clearly intended to lease the fields for nightly city softball, baseball and soccer games?

We need new leaders with a clear vision, a commitment to fiscal responsibility, and the ability to balance community and educational needs.

Jerry Schultz, Bob Tryanski, Jeanne Klein and 10 other signers,


Example 3: Writing a letter opposing a completed action

To the Editor of The Herald:

I am outraged by the County Commission's recent decision to terminate the lease of the Head Start program at the County Court House. With this decision, a much-needed, already under-funded program may simply have no place to go!

Head Start is a fantastic program. It makes sure that poor and other at-risk pre-school children will have the nutritious food and special attention they just may not get elsewhere. It gives these children a true "head start" in a world where they may not get many other chances. And there is plenty of evidence to show that Head Start makes a big difference to kids later in life.

The Commission's recent decision to oust the program to make more room for a ''state Gifts Shop" is ridiculous! If the leaders of our community would like to run a store to sell Kansas-made goods, I'm all for it. However, neither my Kansas pride nor my greed run so deep as to wish to take away the breakfast of 30 hungry three-year-olds. And I am deeply saddened to see that the County Commissioners value profits over people.

This decision is shameful to all who live in Dade County. The County Commissioners should reconsider the situation and revoke their decision immediately. I hope all readers will let the commissioners know how they feel about this terrible situation by calling them at 913-432-1200 or writing to them at the County Court House.


Victoria Stein
3960 Mount Hope Drive

Example 4: Writing a letter opposing a completed action

To the Editor of the Lawrence Journal World:

Are we to praise our City Officials and their crews for hauling away all of the remnants of a homeless site on our river east of the Northern Santa Fe Depot? Is this supposed to be retaliation for notifying our City authories of yet two more deaths on City premises--these of an 18-year-old and a 29-year-old--in their "sophisticated" (J-W, Nov. 1) homeless campsite down by our river?

Do we really think clearing out this makeshift campsite (four City dump trucks full) will solves our City's (and nation's) homeless crisis? --Or lessen the number of vulnerable people dying way before their time for lack of treatment and shelter in our community? Are these people being punished for suddenly coming into eyesight of our authorities by having reported these unfortunate --(and preventable) deaths?

How many homeless deaths will it take for this caring community to come up with constructive answers?

Perhaps the best we can do before winter sets in is to designate SOME area where the building of makeshift wood and cardboard shelters will NOT be razed--and some of us even might be willing to help in its rebuilding...

Perhaps these deaths and the devastation of their only "shelter" will spur us on to building that warm and decent shelter--able to serve more than the 31 hapless people now sleeping on thin mats, wall-to-wall, at our present homeless shelter --with winter coming...

Hilda Enoch

Example 5: Writing a letter in favor of a proposed action

Opinion Piece to the Jackson Free Press

The Center for Disease Control currently ranks Mississippi second in highest infant mortality rates in the nation—in 2016, the state lost 325 babies before their first birthday. Data from the American Academy of Pediatrics shows that more than 900 infant lives per year may be saved in the United States if 90 percent of mothers exclusively breastfed for six months. This shows that if we want to improve the health outcome of babies and increase the number of those that reach their first birthday and beyond, we must center our efforts on removing systemic barriers to breastfeeding.

Moving the marker on breastfeeding and infant health takes the coordinated efforts of communities, hospitals, the government and industries to ensure that mothers’ rights to breastfeed are protected through policy, support, space and time. That is one reason why the Mississippi Urban League has partnered with the University of Mississippi Medical Center and the Mississippi State Department of Health to take on the important work of developing and sustaining a culture of breastfeeding here in Mississippi. Our partnership, which the national BUILD Health Challenge funds, wants to change systems so that they will support, and never inhibit, our community’s efforts to be healthy.

We see the value of a supportive environment for breastfeeding as we work with parents who come to our SIPPS Baby Café, a place where moms and dads not only receive important health and wellness information, but also support from each other. Moms who come to the café say the network of support they receive helps them make the decision to start breastfeeding and motivates them to continue. Knowing that those women, many of whom are the only ones in their family to breastfeed, have someone to call or if they have questions or need encouraging words makes this work fulfilling. This is how we build sustainable support within the community.

In an effort to normalize breastfeeding, we bring breastfeeding out of the café and into the community. SIPPS M.O.B.s (Mothers Out Breastfeeding) provides opportunities for moms to breastfeed in public in a supportive group setting. These outings are designed to educate and sustain a culture of breastfeeding.

Our partnership also works with businesses to develop policies that allow mothers to use their break time to pump and store milk or breastfeed; and have lactation rooms and lactation education programs on site. We know that due to the absence of universal paid maternity leave, many mothers must return to work shortly after giving birth.

The World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund launched the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative, a global program to encourage implementation of the “Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding and the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes,” in 1991. The BFHI assists hospitals in giving mothers the information, confidence and skills necessary to successfully initiate and continue breastfeeding their babies or safely feed with formula, and gives special recognition to hospitals that have done so.

The University of Mississippi Medical Center is among the few Mississippi hospitals to be designated a “Baby-Friendly Hospital” and refers mothers to the SIPPS Baby Café to support and educate pregnant mothers, and support breastfeeding in a community setting. We understand that some mothers are unable to or choose not to breastfeed, and no one should infringe upon their rights to access breast-milk substitutes. Our collaborative effort is aimed at providing education, creating policies and developing supports to ensure that systemic barriers do not influence a mom’s decision not to breastfeed.

We know what is best for the long-term health of Mississippi children. All babies need a head start to have a healthy future. We know breastfeeding the future generation of babies is a part of making that future a brighter one. We must not let our nation’s stance on the World Health Organization’s breastfeeding resolution discourage us. We will continue from the ground up with the momentum we have created to ensure a healthy future for Mississippi children.

Beneta Burt

Example 6: Writing a letter opposing a proposed action

Opinion Piece to The Lawrence Times

“Our people are more important than buildings. It’s our people that make this school district what it is.” — Lawrence Public Schools Superintendent Anthony Lewis

I call bull.

When Dr. Lewis said those words to a room full of press, teachers, parents, members of the Lawrence community, and even a handful of kids, you can imagine a collective eyeroll from the audience. These words were pulled nearly word-for-word from the equity impact analysis from the district’s Futures Planning Committee. Those words were, “Equity resides in the people in the buildings and the community around it — not the building itself.”

The district’s argument for the closure of four of the community’s poorest schools continued to come down to the size and shape of these buildings. And in the days after the board meeting, as other parents like me read the reports on these schools, we discovered complete candidness in the district’s shortcomings. The district was clear they hadn’t heard from the families who rely on the resources in these schools, and the only data they had to make this recommendation was based largely upon arbitrary mathematical data, which the district paid six figures for a consultant to grade.

In fact, a report from the committee’s equity impact analysis read, “We are making assumptions on student representation. Some decisions just need to be made — even without direct representation,” as well as, “Are the east-side voices representing the east side? Are they the rich, privileged voices?”

And so, once again, the community’s poorest schools are again on the chopping block. Same song, different verse.

It’s clear to the families in these schools that the district was not proactive in speaking to the people it claims to serve. Their only solution involved forcing working parents — parents working shift jobs, single parents with no access to child care outside of Boys and Girls Club — to figure out how to attend board meetings and planning sessions. When you’re scrambling to put food on your table or pay a power bill, there’s not much capacity left for attending a school board meeting that you were supposed to read about in the newspaper you can’t afford to buy.

It is once again painfully obvious our administration hasn’t taken any efforts to understand the culture of these schools. And now they’re pinning these decisions on lack of engagement from the community that doesn’t have the capacity to engage.

Read more.

Melody Alexander