91/11/2001: The Day That Changed America
Messages to Ground Zero
Healing Through Art
By Karen Fanning

The cover of Messages to Ground Zero: Children Respond to September 11, 2001.
The tragedies of September 11 hit New York City students hard, especially those whose schools stood in the shadows of the World Trade Center. While they shed plenty of tears, many kids also chose to express their feelings with pens and paintbrushes. It wasn't long before their "masterpieces" caught the attention of Shelley Harwayne.

"The children were doing incredible work in response to the tragedy," says the superintendent of Community District 2 in New York City.

In late September, Harwayne contacted the New York City's Schools Chancellor, who then put out a call to the city's superintendents to send in student artwork. Hundreds of pieces started pouring in from kindergarten students to high school seniors. School administrators and teachers sifted through the works of art and selected what Harwayne calls "the gems."

Those gems — poems, essays, letters, and artwork — are now proudly displayed in a new book published last month: Messages to Ground Zero: Children Respond to September 11, 2001. Proceeds from the book will go to the Fund for the Public Schools, which will benefit children who lost a parent and students who were forced to evacuate their schools.

"It's a hopeful, comforting book," says Harwayne. "On one hand, it says we will never forget. On the other hand, it says that we have to make the world a better place for children, and children will lead us there."

Do you think these kids are heroes? To nominate a hero into our Hall of Heroes, click here.