Jul. 27, 2016 3:49 pm

Mighty Writers gathered over 2,000 kids to break a world record

While sitting on the Art Museum steps and answering the writing prompt, “If I were president …” they attempted to become the “most kids age 7 to 17 writing essays at the same time and place.”

Mighty Writers kids on the steps of the Art Museum.

(Photo by Maggie Heffernan)

If you were president, what would you do? Fix our public education system? Eliminate police brutality? Eat ice cream for every meal?

On the second day of the Democratic National Convention, Mighty Writers took advantage of Philadelphia’s heightened national spotlight to draw attention to another exciting possibility: breaking a world record.

The nonprofit, which aims to foster writing skills in local kids and teens, teamed up with the Office of the City Representative to attempt to break the Guinness World Record for “most kids age 7 to 17 writing essays at the same time and place.” Despite extreme heat, an estimated 2,000 individuals arrived on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art Tuesday morning, ready to write.

The current world record for “most people to write a story” is 1,178 and was set by The Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press in Beijing in 2013.

Participants were told to follow the essay prompt “If I were president…” a timely subject as hours later inside the Wells Fargo Center, Hillary Clinton was officially nominated as the Democratic presidential candidate

The kids were allotted 15 minutes of writing time to tackle this question. Racial equality, combatting climate change and safety proved to be common response themes.

An especially literate crowd.

An especially literate crowd. (Photo by Maggie Heffernan)

“If I were president I would try to make our whole city safe, because I like being safe,” said Nyzjae, 7, from Memorable Moments Learning Center.

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“I would hold up signs that say ‘Black Lives Matter’ if I were president,” added Cabria, 10, from St. Martin de Porres Summer Day Camp.

Local personalities including Mina SayWhat of Power 99 helped kick start the event by giving shoutouts to groups in attendance and emphasizing the benefits of good communication skills.

“I’m on the radio, but what you guys might not know is that I also do a lot of writing to prepare for my job,” said SayWhat. “I want to encourage you all to keep writing because it is important.”

City Representative Sheila Hess also spoke at the event on behalf of Mayor Jim Kenney.

“How many of you ran up the Art Museum steps this morning?” called out Hess over upbeat music. “You know Rocky, who ran up these steps? He also wrote that movie. You can make a difference by writing.”

According to Mighty Writers Executive Director Tim Whitaker, the majority of outreach for the event occurred via word of mouth and social media.

“We started with our own Mighty Writers kids and the numbers grew from there,” said Whitaker, who guessed 40 busloads of kids arrived at the museum on Tuesday. Although many local summer camps and learning centers attended, some kids and teens came with their parents or friends.

In addition to attempting to break a world record, Whitaker and other speakers noted that they hoped this event would shine a light on the literacy crisis that Philadelphia and much of the United States currently faces.

Verification of whether or not the record was broken is set to be released sometime next week.


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