Hall High School Student Awarded Grand Prize for Using Power to Inspire a Community

Cecilian Wheeler (left), winner of Create for Change, with Chelsea O'Donnell of Journey Communications. Submitted photo

Cecilia Wheeler, who will begin her junior year at West Hartford’s Hall High School on Wednesday, is the winner of ‘Create for Change.’


Journey Communications is thrilled to announce the winner of Create for Change, a creative contest that returned this summer in an effort to get local youth thinking about how they can inspire their community. The contest asked students from West Hartford, Farmington, and Bristol to explain how power influences their lives today and how it inspires them to create change for the future.

The winner, Cecilia Wheeler, is an incoming junior at Hall High School in West Hartford who submitted an inspiring essay which personally displayed how she relates to power and how it gives her hope for the future. Wheeler was awarded a $500 cash prize and will be putting the money into savings for her college education.

While other submissions tackled the subject through words, art, and other forms of creative expression, Wheeler’s entry stood out with a brave narration focused on the devastation of school shootings from a personal perspective. In her own words, Wheeler wrote, “The students of this country made this happen. We organized it; we spread the word. We’ve heard about school shootings our entire lives and we decided, no more. No more violence. No more killing. No more shootings. Not only did this movement motivate and unite us, it gave us a goal and therefore, it gave us power. By establishing our reality and working towards a better one, we created our purpose.”

When asked how she felt about winning the Create for Change contest, Wheeler said, “When I first read about the contest, I was overwhelmed with ideas on how to tackle the topic. As high school students, we are faced with so many challenges but we don’t have a lot of ways to voice our opinions. Adults think all we care about is hanging out with our friends, scrolling through social media, and playing Fortnite but that couldn’t be further from the truth. We can’t vote, so we have to find other ways to make ourselves heard, specifically on issues like gun violence that affect us on such a personal level. I was involved in organizing our school walk-out and I spent some time this summer canvassing my neighborhood and encouraging people to vote in the midterm elections. I’m proud of these initiatives but I also wish that there was more I could do here in West Hartford and on a state-based level. I’m so grateful for the Create for Change contest and I hope there are more opportunities like it to get teenagers involved in the future of our country and our town.”

Receiving thought-provoking submissions from Wheeler and other local students was an inspiring experience for Chelsea O’Donnell, who owns a local marketing consultancy called Journey Communications, the principal sponsor for the contest.

“Create for Change was born to give young people the opportunity to speak their mind about subjects that they see and hear in the news every day,” said O’Donnell. “Miss Wheeler’s entry clearly demonstrated how our area teenagers are affected by what happens locally, nationally, and around the world. As business owners, town officials, and residents, it’s our responsibility to give students like her a platform to vocalize their experiences and ideas. I hope that the Create for Change contest and Miss Wheeler’s submission will inspire people to become more vocal in their communities and build initiatives that support social impact and change. As we’ve seen with Miss Wheeler, it only takes one voice to truly inspire a community.”

Wheeler’s award-winning piece can be viewed online at www.journeycomm.com/blog as well as on Facebook at www.facebook.com/journeycomm and on Instagram at www.instagram.com/the_journeyer. More information about Create for Change can be found at www.journeycomm.com/createforchange.

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