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Student Published
Hannah Wells was recently honored in the Dear Freedom Writer virtual book writing contest. 

As she sat in the dark corner of her junior English class, Hannah Wells wanted nothing
more than to remain unseen, unheard, and unnoticed. Like many teens during the pandemic, she
was struggling with thoughts and feelings that she had stuffed far down in hopes of forgetting,
but her teacher had something else in mind. Hannah, along with hundreds of other teens across
the nation, was nominated by her English teacher to take part in a virtual book writing project
with The Freedom Writers Foundation. Hannah was chosen to be one of fifty students across the
nation to take part in writing her story to share with the world, heal her own wounds, and give
voice to all teens. Once chosen, Hannah’s journey toward healing began.
While the rest of the world was reeling and searching for balance, Hannah chose writing to
journey toward healing. Hannah, along with 50 other teens, her teacher, Ering Gruwell, and the
Freedom Writers began and completed writing a book, Dear Freedom Writer, at the height of the
As our world shut down, students were some of the most impacted among us, as risk of
depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation increased. Instead of giving in to these thoughts and
feelings, Hannah decided to empower herself through her writing. The Freedom Writers realized
that now more than ever, the need for community and emotional release would be too great to
ignore. So, how do 100 writers from around the world co-author a book in the middle of a global
health emergency, economic crisis, and civil unrest? Simple... by any means necessary. Hannah
met with other students across the United States, war-torn regions of the Middle East, young
Kurdish refugees in Germany, and the Freedom Writers Foundation via virtual platforms to reach
across borders to engage in an unforgettable learning experience and bring Dear Freedom Writer
to life.
Dear Freedom Writer is composed of fifty letters and their corresponding replies. Student
authors and the Freedom Writers address issues that span generations, such as struggles with
abuse, racism, discrimination, poverty, incarceration, teen parenthood, mental health, self-harm,
imposed borders, LGBTQIA+ identity, and police violence. Dear Freedom Writer brings together
100 different voices to share experiences of grief, pain, triumph, healing, and solidarity, with
each story so bravely written that it inspires empathy and hope. Hannah Wells quickly realized
she was far from unseen, undheard, and unnoticed. Now a high school senior, Hannah is a
published author, who has left the comfort of Mansfield and the corner of the classroom to
launch her book and share her story in Los Angeles, California. Hannah has given voice to her
pain and experienced hope and healing through the writing process. For more information about
The Freedom Writers Foundation or to get your copy of Dear Freedom Writer, please visit: