For YouthWrite Elbow I Experience 2023
|On the first day at YouthWrite, campers enter my class chattering excitedly about how great the previous class was – the enthusiasm is contagious. We start with introductions, and they’re so excited because someone from their other class, or someone from their dorm room, or someone they sat with at breakfast is in this class, too. Even the shyest kids are eager and friendly and can’t wait for class to start.In my curriculum, we illustrate text generated elsewhere, so they’re pulling from their journals or favourite song lyrics, lines from their favourite poem, or things that they’ve written in other YouthWrite classes. They’re openly sharing ideas; it’s heartwarming and inspiring. By the second day, the shyness is gone, and campers are all so supportive of each other and their work. By the third day, they’re getting more confident, and I heard one camper say, “this is the one week of the year when I can really be myself. “By the fourth day, they’ve become creative geniuses, scrambling to finish what they’ve started and to connect meanings in their images and texts. On the fifth day, they often arrive with eyes red from crying because they realize it’s their last day at camp, and they don’t want to leave. They’ll say things like, “We’ll be friends, forever,” and an experienced camper will say, “Yes, absolutely, you will.” An experienced camper will tell the first-timers how they stay in touch with the YouthWrite community and will explain how YouthWriters share their work with each other online throughout the year and receive support, feedback and encouragement, all because of the bonds made at camp.It really does give me goosebumps to see. And I am grateful to be a part of this community.
For YouthWrite Peak I & II Experience 2021
|Since being fortunate enough to be involved with this wonderful organization, I’ve not only become a better co-worker and professional, but I’ve become more confident in who I am as a person finding his way in the fray, and YouthWrite has been a catalyst in the most recent chapter of my transformation. Built from the ground up and carefully fostered over time, YouthWrite creates an environment where people are appreciated for who they are. The result is that people are empowered and infused with real courage to overcome their fears. This is what YouthWrite means to me… to speak of what it does for campers, well…
What YouthWrite does for participants is remarkable—magic, really. In simple terms, YouthWrite causes adults. But not the boring, narcissistic, cynical, jaded or cantankerous individuals we sometimes encounter today; rather, it promotes hope, wit, strength and courage, kindness and love, altruism, and a spirit of collaboration in those who attend, creating the kinds of grown-ups that contribute to and care about the world. YouthWriters are exceptional in their own rights, their skills and imaginations having largely been cultivated before they even make it here. YouthWrite offers a space for the campers to explore themselves, meet likeminded individuals and build community while also developing different aspects of themselves as thinkers, writers, and artists. It offers a respite from the rigours of society, and provides a safer, kinder, more patient alternative to what occurs on the outside. YouthWrite facilitates personal growth. It provides a haven for people—often those at the margins, or who struggle with identity—to come together, experiment, take risks… but most importantly gives a place where you can be yourself free from judgment, prejudice, or persecution. We need more love, kindness, support, and courage in this world, and YouthWrite offers it all in spades. 10/10 would YouthWrite again!
For YouthWrite River Valley Experience I & II 2021
|The motto of Youth Write is, “a Camp for kids who like to write…anything,” but it is more than that. It’s a camp for kids who want to defy reality, who believe stories—their stories—matter. It is a camp for kids who want to be anything they dream. This year, because of COVID-19, the challenges were abundant, but a pandemic didn’t stand a chance. The River Valley Experience supers and coordinator rose to the challenge, smoothing every hurdle and working overtime to ensure the campers’ and instructors’ experiences were gold standard. Instructors gave their all and then gave some more and it showed. There were smiles and giggles, the surprised delight of a young artist who discovered a talent for drums, dancing, story-telling, improv, and poetry. At the Wrap-Up party, their works took the audiences breath away. These young artists showed vulnerability and courage in their work, they wowed us with their creativity and talent. Canada is truly lucky to count these campers among our next generation of artists.
For YouthWrite Zooms Online 2021
|I was so grateful to get to spend a week of my July in the company of Youthwrite’s incredible crew of campers, supervisors, and world-class instructors. During our time together, a number of my students reflected on how incredible that we could all be laughing, writing, and creating together, despite the space between us (we had folks joining us from literally coast to coast)! My class, Eye Say, is all about developing a character over the course of the week by eating, sleeping, writing, and improvising as them, and boy, did these students produce a wild cast of characters (from bloodthirsty cockroaches to fitness influencers to steak enthusiasts from space to vengeful pineapples)! When I was in High School, I remember feeling very isolated, and desperate to find other people like me (other weirdos, honestly), who dreamed of being an artist when they grew up. A decade later, Youthwrite has given me more friends, collaborators, and mentors than I can count. Without exaggeration, Youthwrite has changed my life for the better many times over, and I’m over the moon that by offering this new, dynamic iteration of Youthwrite Zooms online, this irreplaceable camp now has the capacity to reach even more students, and change even more lives.
For Youthwrite Zooms Online and RV I & II
|Picture it, Edmonton Spring 2021. I’ve been hired on to work at YouthWrite as Communications Manager as the amazing organization has worked to bring my youth comic book camps (Drawn to Write) under their umbrella after an incredibly hard pandemic year. Then Gail Sobat, known for believing in people and throwing them into situations she knows they can handle (even if they themselves aren’t so sure) says “Tania, you’ll be coordinating the YouthWrite Zooms Online camp and being a Super for River Valley I and II.” So my first year at YouthWrite has been busy, is what I’m saying. It is difficult to explain exactly what this first camp experience at YouthWrite means to me. Words that come to mind: immersive, inclusive, creative, challenging, inspiring, and to be honest, exhausting (though that doesn’t set in until after camp is done). But the biggest take away I’ve had is the sense of community building, from watching the YouthWriters find a safe space with us and with each other, to the great bonds I’ve formed with the other Supers and Instructors. YouthWriters online wrote about how they never would have been able to find this community without us holding it over Zoom as they joined from across the country. A young YouthWriter at River Valley told me we should change our tagline to “YouthWrite: Where introverts come to be extraverts.” Being long-winded is in my nature, but to try to sum it all up, my first year at YouthWrite allowed me into a community that provides strength, support, and hope to everyone the organization encounters. In a normal year, all of this would make me grateful. After the year+ we’ve all had, my gratitude is overwhelming.