Friday, April 22, 2011

Help us Celebrate a Year of Fabulous Writing!

Help us celebrate a year of creativity and accomplishment by joining us on June 3rd. Our writers (ages 8-18)  will read excerpts from their polished pieces at the Courtyard Gallery at the World Financial Center! All are welcome, and we do not require that you RSVP. But RSVP's to are appreciated, and preferred by May 31st. See you there!

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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Creative writing is for everybody

As Writopia Lab continues to grow in Westchester, our partnerships with local libraries, schools, and bookshops remain crucial to how our writing community fits within the broader network of institutions that advance literacy. Because of this, I'm afforded frequent opportunity to interact with many like-minded kids, educators and authors. They, along with the many enthusiastic librarians and booksellers I meet, sometimes make it easy for me to forget that not everyone sees value in learning the art of written expression.

Yet I am sometimes asked why creative writing should matter at all for kids who are not considered predisposed in some way as writers.

Former Senator Bob Kerrey, as 2006 Chair for the National Commission on Writing in America's Schools and Colleges, can begin to answer that question:

"In the face of mounting external pressure, more and more schools are pulling resources from programs that would otherwise electrify students, focusing intstead on preparing students to meet requirements on high-stakes tests. As a result, few resources are allotted to growing the intense individuality that so many students crave, leaving students feeling creatively (and sometimes intellectually) understimulated in school.

But this isn't just about our children feeling creatively unfulfilled. This is also about whether or not the current education culture -- in both public and private schools -- is preparing students for professional life.

Two thirds of workers in large companies are required to write. Writing is both a marker of high-skill, high-wage, professional work and a gatekeeper with clear equity implications."

To this I would add that, just as not every child who takes music lessons will become a professional musician, and not every child who joins a sport will become a professional athlete, not every child who practices at creative writing must become a novelist. Nonetheless, the dedicated pursuit of written expression is as essential to the foundation of a successful professional and civic life as is time spent in the music room or on the field of play.

Good writing in any line of work requires a voice and a point of view, especially in our highly competitive information age. It is not enough to simply spit out facts culled from encyclopedias and the internet. Effective use of the individual voice and point of view are cultivated through diligent practice (and having some fun during that process also helps).

As a parent myself, I personally experience how communities and families struggle to ration precious educational resources. I believe, however, that writing in general - and creative writing specifically - have been unduly neglected during the current focus on standardized testing. To meet those standards, families increasingly feel pressed to place their kids on dangerously exhaustive academic treadmills, seldom allowing outlets for personal expression, and often to the detriment of long-term learning and mental health. And as more and more families become pressed financially, parents find a widening gap between the tests their children must take and the dwindling opportunities on which their professional futures truly depend.

Writopia Lab is a not-for profit dedicated to teaching written expression not only to those who can easily afford it, or to those presumed predisposed to creative writing, but to all kids and teens. And I'm so excited to work as part of Writopia Lab's effort to achieve that goal in Westchester county.

For questions or details about our program, please call me at (914) 401-4159, or email


Léna Roy
Writing Instructor

Westchester Program Manager

Writopia Lab, Inc.
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