The mission is to engage inner-city youth in reading and writing without ever repeating the same literary project. The challenge with not using the same lesson plan every semester may be difficult for some. However, Writer’s Exchange has managed to do just this for the past 5 years . They were able to accomplish this by tailoring each major semester project to the group of kids they worked with.
Sarah Maitland and Jennifer MacLeod officially joined forces in 2013 to develop the beginnings of Writers‘ Exchange. What started out as a small extracurricular endeavor in 2011, became a recognized community asset. In 2017 alone, they provided 14 871 worth of program hours to 692 kids.
They offer a variety of programs through their main location and in partnership with different schools. With every session they publish a chap book. This chap book is a collection of the kids’ work.
Macleod shared an example of one of the chap books published in collboration with an elementary class. The students were asked to develop a How to Guide for Hunger Game participants that covered all the ins and outs of using British Columbia plants for survival. Upon completion of the chap books, each student and volunteer got their very own copy of the anthology. In addition to developing interest in creative writing and reading, Writers‘ Exchange gives opportunities to develop self-esteem and connection.
Following each session, the group would celebrate their hard work by sharing with their peers. Macleod commented how at a recent party, a girl whom was too shy to do public speaking in the past, took the mic and owned it. It is the small transformations and victories that can create immense motivation to keep moving forward.
With their new family nights doubling in attendance, 3 additional support workers and a new safe space for sparking creativity, Writers’ Exchange is well on their way to their goals for 2018.
Note: 1. Writer’s Exchange was established in Vancouver, British Columbia. (Canada)
2. Discovered through Charity Village.