WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Growing up wasn't easy for Della Gaylord.
"I was being punched and kicked and verbally abused" said Gaylord.
So in the 7th grade, Gaylord decided she had enough. The Okeechobee student reported the abuse to her guidance counselors, and wrote about her experience.
"I'm really proud of myself that I really got through this," said Gaylord.
Gaylord was one of 800 students who attended the "Do the Write Thing" challenge luncheon at the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach today.
The program addresses youth violence in Palm Beach County middle schools through lectures and discussions. Students in the program write about their experiences.
"Every year the essays seem to get better and better and better," said Judge Ron Alvarez.
Judge Ron Alvarez helped plan today's luncheon and says he sees kids everyday trying to change their lives around.
"I never give up on my kids. They may give up on themselves but I never give up on my kids," said Alvarez.
Alvarez and the rest of the panel pick two students to represent the county at the national "Do the Write Thing" national conference.
Brandon Scloss will represent the boys and Della Gaylord will represent the girls.
"I honestly feel like beyond this I will go and tell people about my own story so if its happening to them they can step up and get the help they need," said Gaylord.
Organizers say this year Palm Beach County had the most middle school students participate in the program than any other county in the country.
Copyright 2013 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
One person will win a three-year lease on a 2013 Honda Civic Lx Sedan automatic.
Click to see the latest mugshots, plus this week's wanted fugitives.
This feature packed upgrade brings you faster performance, easier navigation, and stunning improvements to photos, video and readability.
Latest Local News Stories