Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Project Coach and Power Writing

Project Coach Teens and Mentors Participating in the Power Writing Workshop 

            In connection with the youth empowerment movement of Power Writing and the documentary "To Be Heard," Project Coach teens and their Smith College mentors participated in a workshop and film screening on Monday, March 4th. After meeting some of the program's leaders including Amy Sultan, Roland Legiardi-Laura, Pearl Quick, and Joe Ubiles, the teens learned about the importance of literacy in our society. Roland shared the ways that reading and writing ability can predict your future. Students were taught the Power Writers' motto, "If you don't learn to write your own life story, someone else will write it for you." Pearl, a former student in the Power Writers class, shared how the class helped her write her story, get in to Sarah Lawrence College, and move out of her neighborhood. Then, Project Coach students and their mentors were given about ten minutes to write about whatever they wanted. Following this time, a Project Coach teen volunteered to be the Master (the one responsible for choosing volunteers to share and people to comment). Pearl started the sharing with her own poem and then many teens from Project Coach and some staff members shared their writing. The stories ranged from humorous to deeply personal and everyone was celebrated for sharing. Each presenter was clapped in to feel welcome and clapped out to feel they were at home. After twenty minutes of this, the group had experienced an unprecedented relationship building activity and empowerment through literacy. 
        Following the workshop, Project Coach teens went to a screening of the documentary, "To Be Heard" which closely followed three students in the Power Writers class in the South Bronx. Pearl, who helped lead the workshop, was one of the three main characters in the film. The film was an honest portrayal of the success of youth empowerment as well as the times when students continue to make life altering mistakes. All of the Project Coach teens thoroughly enjoyed the film and the real portrayal of teenage life in America. After watching the film, Loeb Rosario reflected, "It made me think about how I based my life on sports and Project Coach and the characters in the film used poetry to help them live." All of our coaches were inspired by the film and many suggested that we continue to use Power Writing as a part of Project Coach. 

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