When 10-year-old Peabody resident Nicholas Sablone grows up he wants to be a carpenter because that’s what his dad does and it’s awesome.
That’s just a small part of what he recently wrote in an essay that made him one of the eight winners of Peabody’s Grade 4 Positive & Healthy Living Essay Contest.
The Healthy Peabody Collaborative sponsored the contest, which was in honor of Red Ribbon Week, a drug, alcohol and tobacco awareness campaign annually observed in October.
Eight elementary schools in Peabody participated in the contest and one winner was chosen from each school. There were about 250 essay submissions, all reviewed by eight members of the Peabody Rotary Club.
Nicholas, who attends Center Elementary, and the other winners were given their awards this week.
“We were trying to figure out an alternative way for the kids to express themselves, and not just through coloring,” said Sara Grinnell, director of the Healthy Peabody Collaborative, a group that aims to reduce substance abuse in the community. “We had a great response from the schools.”
The agency developed contest guidelines for the elementary school program by using suggestions or assets from the Search Institute, an organization that seeks to improve youth lives all over the world. The collaborative than came up with essay prompts and each student selected one.
Nicholas picked the theme positive identity:
“The important thing to me to be a carpenter is if I can build things that haven’t been made it could make things easier for people,'' Nicholas said in his essay.
"I want to be able to build houses for people who need them. People will probably be happy that I built a house for them. It’s very important for people to have a healthy life.”
The idea of healthy life is central to the collaborative's mission. The group aims to reduce underage substance abuse in the city, to create a healthier community and to promote positive interaction among people.
“The essay contest isn’t about who writes the best essay, but capturing the spirit of the assets and he [Nicholas] did that in his essay,” Grinnell said. “I mean, he wants to build handicap ramps for people.”
Jeff Sablone, Nicholas’s father, was excited to hear of his son’s win. He was front and center as Nicholas accepted his prize of a $10 Barnes and Noble gift certificate and his letter of recognition.
“I have two boys and he’s my little right-hand man,” Sablone said. “Whenever I’m doing something he’s beside me. If I drive in my truck to go to Home Depot he’s beside me. It’s pretty cool.”
According to Mayor Edward A. Bettencourt Jr., living a healthy life and teaching children how to make positive decisions about their body and mind is one of the city’s top priorities.
“There’s not a more important lesson than being healthy, making the right choices,” Bettencourt said. “As a city we want to support that and help the children every step of the way.”
As for Nicholas, he didn't basked in the glory of his win quite yet.
“He’s very shy so he doesn’t show his emotions,” Sablone said. “But when he’s home he’ll probably be jumping for joy.”
Below is a list of the other seven winners of the Peabody Public Schools Grade 4 Positive & Healthy Living Essay Contest:
Samantha Valente - Thomas Carroll Elementary School
Jesse Silva-William - A. Welch, Sr. Elementary School
Colby Browne-Cap- Samuel Brown Elementary School
Jaelyn Rossignoll-South Memorial School
Justin Saslaw - John E. Burke Elementary School
Jack Houlden -- West Memorial Elementary School
Darcy Boucher - John E. McCarthy