Many teachers, including Samuel Reed, struggle to get their male students involved in creative writing as much as their female students. So over this past summer, Reed, a teacher at the U School and a Philadelphia Writing Project consultant, helped organize a series of writing workshops for boys in Philadelphia.
The workshops, called Boys.Write.Now., are part of an initiative called Start.Write.Now. The program was created by the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, which is the nonprofit presenter of the Scholastic Art & Writing Award. Start.Write.Now. is a national workshop series designed to encourage students in grades 7–12 to share their voice and engage with their creative peers.
“One of the issues for us is we have so many more girls than boys submitting writing. So we started to see what we could do during the summer to reach more boys,” said Virginia McEnerney, executive director of the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers.
Philadelphia’s Boys.Write.Now. workshops, supported locally by the Philadelphia Writing Project, were held earlier this summer and were open to boys grades 7-12. Additional funding for the workshops was provided by BMe, a real-world social network for building more caring and prosperous communities inspired by black men. Reed, the leader of the workshops, received the funding as a 2014 BMe Award Recipient.
The workshops were designed to encourage boys to use creativity and encourage more to submit their work to the awards. Reed chose to host the workshops at three different locations, Overbrook Arts Center, the University of Pennsylvania Museum, and Impact Hub Philadelphia, in order to reach as many youth as possible across the city.
“Giving young men opportunities through different mediums–through writing, through drawing, through creating games to express themselves. We’re preparing kids for the 21st century economy–the creative economy,” Samuel Reed said.
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Youth at each of Reed’s workshops got to pick what they wanted to focus on: video game design, poetry, or visual art. This allowed them to learn a wide variety of skills such as game story-boarding, elements of drawing and aesthetics, and elements of writing and delivering poetry.
The goal of the workshops was to have boys learn skills and start projects that they can continue after the workshop is over. Reed said they will stay in touch with the workshop participants to continue mentoring them and to help them submit their work to the next round of the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, which opens September 15.
“Giving young men opportunities through different mediums–through writing, through drawing, through creating games to express themselves. We’re preparing kids for the 21st century economy–the creative economy,” said Reed. “Somebody is going to find their passion today, and that might be the start of an amazing artist, performer, person.”
Reed will host a workshop this Saturday, August 23 at Oxford Mills as a pilot workshop for Girls, called “Girls on Fire,” using some of the additional funding he received from BMe.-30-
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