While many 12-year-old boys spend their free time with cartoons and video games, Tyrese Hatcher spends his working on story scripts and writing letters to the president of the United States.
Tyrese has loved trains all his young life, but when he heard about plans for a high-speed rail system connecting Chattanooga with Atlanta, his interest grew.
Last week, Tyrese and his brothers took their first steps toward political activism by attending a public meeting for the proposed rail system. The brothers held signs promoting the bullet train coming to Chattanooga.
"I was nervous," Tyrese said. "I thought I was going to have to speak to all those people."
But Tyrese doesn't have trouble expressing himself in other ways. With the help of family members, he has written a script telling a fictional story about the high-speed rail coming to Chattanooga.
Last year, he wrote a letter to President Barack Obama detailing what he was doing with his script. To his family's surprise, he received a reply from the White House this May. Inside was a letter from the president.
"I was amazed," Tyrese said. "He's got all those other letters to read, but he wrote back to mine."
The letter had words of encouragement from the president.
"You, too, have a role to play in shaping our future," the letter states. "I encourage you to work hard and dedicate your energy, talent, and creativity to improving your community and our country."
Tyrese said he hopes the rail system comes to Chattanooga and that his script can make a difference in the decision. He hopes some day to turn his script into an independent film, but admits he has a lot to learn first.
"I hope I can put it out to the rest of the people to see," Tyrese said. "They may want to help (bring the train to Chattanooga)."
His older brother Jawuan, 13, has helped, making the signs they carried to the public meeting and generally just being a big brother.
"It's cool," Jawuan said. "I hope we get a chance to ride (the train) one day."
The boys' father and mother, Brian and Irish, said they are proud of their kids for what they are doing. Brian Hatcher said it amazes him how Tyrese has gotten interested in "grown-up" things.
"He's a diamond in the rough," Brian Hatcher said. "I think he'd make a good mayor of Chattanooga one day."