Yesterday was the third week that Stasia, Leah, Tara and I headed to Cedar Rapids to visit the kids at Four Oaks, Cedar Valley. We spend one hour writing with them, using the neighborhood’s community center as our workshop from six o’clock to seven o’clock each Monday. We’ve had a pretty good turnout each time, and Stasia, Leah, and Tara have come up with some phenomenal writing prompts. The first week, we wrote about our names: what we like about them, what we don’t like about them, where they came from, etc. A brilliant idea of Stasia’s, a writing prompt based on each kid’s identity was the perfect way for each of them to introduce to us who they feel they are. Dora came along with us this first week, but the next week it was just Tara, Leah, Stasia and me. Tara had the kids write about their ideal superhero, as the kids had expressed interest in writing comic books the week before. It was such a popular topic that this week a few kids wondered if we were going to continue on the previous week’s theme. Finally, this week Leah introduced the kids to a prompt that had them writing about their ideal place. This prompt was especially effective at inspiring some deeper thought from the kids, or so I felt. At the end of the workshop, when everyone went around reading about their ideal setting, many of the young writers expressed a wish to live in a place where there is no violence and where everything is free.
Going to Four Oaks is quickly becoming one of the best parts of my week. I’ve been trying to keep track of which kids come back each Monday. It’s only been three weeks, but I feel like I’m getting to know their styles and personalities. They’re all their own people, and watching them learn to be proud of what they create is a genuine pleasure.