The annual Law Day celebration, co-hosted by the North Carolina Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Division and the North Carolina Bar Foundation, took place Friday, May 5. Part of the day’s events included the final stage of the McIntyre Youth Leadership Challenge, which was held at the North Carolina Court of Appeals building in downtown Raleigh.
Started by former Congressman Mike McIntyre and run by Co-Chairs Ashle Page and Ashley Oldfield, the aim of the Challenge is to encourage students to demonstrate the qualities of good citizenship by developing the skills required to seek solutions to the various problems within their local communities through research, public speaking and community action.
The first round of the Challenge requires middle and high school students to research problems they see in their communities. Once they find one to focus on, they submit a 3-5 minute video discussing why they believe the problem exists, solutions to solve it, and identify an organization that is working to address the problem. After the videos are submitted, volunteers from the Young Lawyers Division review and grade the submissions to determine the four finalists.
At the Law Day Celebration, the finalists presented their speeches to North Carolina Court of Appeals Judges Dillon, Tyson, and Hampson, along with Congressman McIntyre and his team, their families, and NCBA+NCBF staff members.
The first presenter was Krish Attaluri, last year’s first place winner and current 8th grader from Cary. Krish discussed the decline in youth sports participation after the age of 13, and believes that more teens involved in local recreational leagues could help address a wide variety of issues they face. The organization he felt could help remedy this problem is Play it Forward – a scholarship fund for residents of Cary that allows recipients to join sports teams regardless of their financial situation.
Next was Juliet Johnson, a 7th grader from Wilmington. Juliet’s focus was on the overwhelming need for guidance counselors and social workers in the state of North Carolina. With the large number of students experiencing mental health crises, she argued that creating a chapter in North Carolina for the nonprofit Letters to Strangers could alleviate some of the strains on the education system. This organization allows anyone to anonymously send a letter to another program participant, offering the chance for both to share their struggles and provide support for each other.
Third was Nolan Dixon, a 5th grader from Asheboro who shared stories about his family’s struggle to access specialty health care services in rural parts of the state. He outlined several solutions to overcoming this problem, and the organization he chose was Kid’s Path Foundation, a group who “increase[s] access to consistent, pediatric palliative care.”
Last was Ella Pyon, a 9th grader from Cary. Ella argued that the teacher shortage in North Carolina is creating problems that could have lasting effects on students and their educational opportunities. She believes that proper funding from the government is needed to remedy the situation, but identified PTAs as groups that can help fund teachers in the interim.
All four finalists impressed the audience with their passion, research, and ability to answer questions at the end of their presentations. While it was a difficult decision, the judges awarded Krish Attaluri with first place and Nolan Dixon with second. Donations to the organizations they identified of $1,000 and $500 will be made in thanks to the Douglas Carmichael McIntyre II Justice Fund.
We are thankful to all the assistance provided by Congressman McIntyre, Judge Dillon, Judge Tyson, Judge Hampson, Ashle Page, Ashley Oldfield, and the NCBA Young Lawyers Division.