That’s how Jaia Harrison felt — like her voice mattered — as she walked out of the Allegheny County Courthouse with her father on a mid-June afternoon, still buzzing from her interview with Judge Dwayne Woodruff.
After seeing a boy shot a few feet from her at a haunted hayride in September 2021, she penned an essay about how gun violence touched her life. Do the Write Thing, a national program that prompts middle school students to write about the causes and effects of violence, selected her as one of 10 eighth-grade finalists across Pittsburgh to speak to the judge.
“I held my own,” Jaia said. “I didn’t feel intimidated. I felt comfortable. And I felt like this is what I want to do, this is how I can make a change.”
Image: Jose Alonso