I’m Sally, Grants Manager at the Story Factory (oh – that’s Viggo Pawtensen, my Bernese Mountain Dog, loitering in the background. Who knows where Tor the Terrible, my tyrannical French Bulldog, is... probably conquering and laying waste to the veggie patch. Again.).
But I digress:
You’ve probably heard me talk about the amazing work the Story Factory does in our creative writing programs, the humbling lessons I learn every day from the truly incredible young people we work with, and how I have the best – and most inspiring – colleagues in the world.
Today I want you to hear about why we do it, and how you can help.
The impact of poor literacy is lifelong.
Have you ever wanted to say something, but didn't have the words? Or felt like you'd be laughed at or shut down if you did?
A childhood spent in silence and anonymity as a result of critically underdeveloped reading and writing skills can cause irrevocable damage.
Young people experiencing these difficulties often leave school early, drastically limiting their prospects and options for the future. Sadly, this often leads to detachment from, or a troubled relationship with, society.
This is the harsh reality for many young people marginalised by their cultural, linguistic, and socioeconomic backgrounds.
Unable to communicate their ideas, fears and needs effectively - and often unwilling to try, for fear of being immediately shut down - their voices remain unheard.
At Story Factory, we work with young people who are experiencing adversity and disadvantage in their lives. We work with Indigenous students, students from language backgrounds other than English (often newly arrived to Australia), students with mental or physical health challenges, challenging behaviour and unstable home lives.
Our programs are delivered free of charge, ensuring that every young person in need of our programs can access them.
We work exclusively with schools and communities that have a Family Occupation and Education Index above 100, indicating significant – often intergenerational – socioeconomic and educational disadvantage.
We want to see an Australia where all young people have the skills and confidence to tell their stories and shape their future.
And I know you do too.
Which, friends, is why I’m taking the Pen to Paper Challenge - and asking for your support to ensure we can continue to deliver our creative writing programs and reach more young people in need than ever before.
From May 23-26, I’ll commit to completing one of four writing challenges:
• a 3,000 word fantastically fictional short story;
• 6 (likely terrible) poems;
• a 1,200 word opinion piece (that might be tough, as we all know I’m extremely unopinionated…); or
• 6 impromptu timed writing tasks (eek!).
Throughout the challenge I’ll be posting about my progress, premiering my piece(s) de resistance; aaaaaand probably sharing far too much of my inner monologue along the proverbial written way.
Before then I’ll be bombarding you with fun facts, hard truths, and (if I’m honest) probably a fair few pictures of my dogs, too.
Oh! You'll also get to goggle at my handwriting, which has been described by some of our workshop participants as:
• ‘like an alien's!’
• ‘I can't read it’ and
(To clear up any confusion, the latter two are legit adjectives.)
So please: support me in the Pen to Paper Challenge and help Story Factory to help marginalised young people discover their creativity, develop fundamental literacy skills, and most importantly – develop a love of reading and writing.