The creative process of writing can begin at a young age, but the proper avenues can be hard to find. Now, ASU students at the Polytechnic campus plan to help young children capitalize on those opportunities.
ASU professor Wendy Williams came up with the idea for the new Young Authors’ Studio at the Polytechnic campus to support kids like her daughter. She said that her daughter loves to write her own stories, graphic novels and plays, but she lacks the opportunity to explore those mediums in school.
Williams said bringing this new program to campus allowed other avenues for creative thoughts and writing.
“I wanted to create a space where young writers could explore and deepen their love of writing,” Williams said. “This program is all about celebrating and nurturing youth voices.”
Williams said the workshop serves the community with free weekly writing programs for students in grades 5 to 12.
ASU students work as mentors in the program, earning them college credit as they recruit students, create curricula, lead workshops and run the program.
Stephanie Reid, a second-year doctoral student in the learning, literacies and technologies program, attended some of the planning meetings to support the program. She praised the mentors’ backgrounds and experience.
“The mentors bring their expertise, but also their enthusiasm,” Reid said. “Their energy and commitment are key components of the programs. Without doubt, the young authors will enjoy working with and learning from their ASU student mentors.”
Cierra Ammons, a senior in English, said the program teaches students about writing poetry, plays, songs and novels. The program will give them an opportunity to share their work at a public performance and writing gallery in December.
“We believe young people have very valuable experiences to share and want to be part of encouraging them to share their voices and words in this world where they are often silenced,” Ammons said.
The program mentors are enrolled in a cross-listed internship course called ENG 484/584: Mentoring Youth Writers.
Ammons said the program is also intended to give younger students a glimpse at campus college life.
“Bringing them onto a university campus and having them interact with actual college students and professors gives them an opportunity to see how incredible ASU is and gives us an opportunity to encourage them to continue their education after high school,” she said.
Ammons said that 25 young writers have expressed interest as of Oct. 5. Williams said they are willing to take up to 30 students if the interest is there.
Young Nae Choi, second-year theatre MFA student, said hopes are high for the program.
“Their expectations and excitement for Young Authors’ Studio were evident,” Choi said. “From young authors who attended the session, I got a sense that they were already writing a lot in their time outside of school and had a type of writing that they were already passionate about.”
Passion for the craft of writing is one of the studio’s guiding principles, along with honoring diversity and encouraging writers to draw on their languages and experiences among other factors.
Mentors believe students write to be heard, whether they choose to share their work or not. They aim to create a safe and supportive space where youth voices are celebrated.
“Writing is and can be an outlet for many young people as they travel through some of the most tumultuous years of their lives,” Ammons said. “Being exposed to a variety of types of writing through a program like Young Authors' Studio may be just what a particular student needs at that time.”
ASU students who are interested in helping in the future should enroll in ENG 484/584 next fall, Williams said.