Long Island high school students are invited to enter an essay contest that aims to combat bullying against people with developmental disabilities.

Students in grades 9 to 12 enrolled in public or private schools in Nassau or Suffolk counties as well as Queens are eligible to compete for the $4,000 first-place prize, $3,000 second-place award or $2,000 third-place winner.

“I hope that this essay question will motivate more critical thinking, constructive ideas, and perhaps, solutions,” said Peter Klein, President of The Claire Friedlander Family Foundation, which is organizing the contest in association with the nonprofit Life’s WORC/Family Center For Autism.

The foundation Mr. Klein leads was created by the late Claire Friedlander, a Holocaust victim who immigrated from Nazi Germany to the United States. Life’s WORC was founded by Victoria Schneps-Yunis, co-publisher of the Long Island Press, which is also sponsoring the event along with the Queens Courier.

The question that the essay contest poses is: Why autistic and developmentally disabled people become targets of bullies, and how can my school and community prevent it?

The essays must be 400-500 words, submitted by the U.S. Postal Service, Fed Ex, or United Parcel Service postmarked by no later than May 3, 2018. Contact Tina Moreno at 516-741-9000 or Danny Frank at 212-279-1041 for details. Awards will be made at a presentation event at The Family Center For Autism by no later than June 1, 2018.

Besides Klein, judges for this contest include Northville Industries Corp. CEO Dr. Gene Bernstein, Life’s WORC Executive Director Janet Koch and Kelly Mcmasters, Asst. Professor of English and Publishing Studies Director at Hofstra University.

“Sadly, bullying and acts of thoughtless, irresponsible conduct targeting developmentally disabled and autistic people is at a point of crisis,” Klein said. “How can schools and communities help to bring about new social improvements and bring an end to this form of prejudice and intolerance?”

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