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Original 'Freedom Writer' gives message of hope

Manny Scott, one of the original "Freedom Writers," spoke to Austin High School students Wednesday.

Posted: Feb. 14, 2019 12:14 AM
Updated: Feb. 14, 2019 12:15 AM

AUSTIN, Minn. - A man from California is using his story of overcoming adversity to bring hope to young people.

Manny Scott was a part of an English class at Long Beach's Wilson High that's now known around the world as the "Freedom Writers."

He speaks to schools and groups around the world. On Wednesday, he spoke to students at Austin High School.

Some may have seen the movie that came out in 2007. The character "Marcus" portrayed his story, along with another classmate's.

Scott only spoke to the students for about an hour, but the impact he made seemed to be everlasting.

"I always try to make sure I'm giving my very best as though this is my last chance to touch someone's heart," Scott said. "I may never see these kids again."

Just like in the movie, Scott used a similar exercise to get to know the 1500 in the room.

It started out light, before diving into more serious topics that dug into home life.

"I know, especially like at the Austin High School, I know people go through a lot," Kelijah Greene, a student at AHS, said. "Even though we're a small town, I know people still go through things."

Still, several students were surprised at those who had the courage to stand up for some of the devastating questions.

"Some people took it to heart because it's real to them you know," Skyler Peter, another student, said. "It really means something to them."

"Like a lot of my friends had stood up and I didn't know that they were going through that kind of stuff," Shelissa Bentzin, AHS student, said.

Scott thinks it's a way of bringing people together.

"Sometimes it's just starting with, 'Yes i'm going through this,'" Scott said, "and when you look around and see hundreds of your classmates standing with you, there's this huge burden lifted off of you like 'I'm not alone.' This stress relief. 'Someone understands me.' I think that's the beginning of healing."

No matter race or socioeconomic background, Scott sees a hopelessness in this generation that we wants fixed.

"If we don't help our young people feel loved, feel safe, feel seen," Scott said, "then things are only going to get worse."

Scott also spoke to teachers at staff at Austin High School on how they can help the young people.

Scott is married with three kids. He has spoken to more than 125 groups a year for the past decade.

To learn more about his story, click here.

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