Dell Summer 2020

WordPlay Cincy:

where stories write the future

WordPlay was founded in 2012 to give young people a safe, inclusive and inspiring place to come together, uncover and share personal narratives, and determine how their creativity and voices contribute to a more

just and equitable community. 

How We Waste Our Time As Wallflowers

Fabiola Matumaine, WordPlay student and ArtWorks apprentice, in front of a mural she helped create.

Hello everyone 

I’m Fabiola Matumaine, I’m 18 years old and I’m junior at Aiken high school.


I worked with Wordplay, wrote poems and I felt like it would be good if I write another poem.  But this one is not about this mural that we working on. It about the Sugar N’ Spice mural and I never share this poem but because I like flowers and I worked on the flower mural I would like to share it.

The name of my poem is:


How We Waste Our Time As Wallflowers


I like to waste my time creating new art like drawing flowers on a building wall.

So, come waste your time on my flowers.

Because it makes me feel happy when I'm looking on what I did.

So, come waste your time feeling happy.

It is relaxing because when people look at what I drew they like it.

So, come waste your time and relax.

This is good because it helps me gain a lot of knowledge of new flowered views.

So, come waste your time to get some knowledge.

I learn about the many materials, how to make art, and paint with purpose.

So, come waste your time with purpose.

Instead, I could be a person who draws something to make people smile.

So, come waste your time smiling.

I am human therefore I waste.

So, come waste your time on my flowered wall.

A poem by Fabiola Matumaine


The power of story, connection and self-determination
Social Divides

Our communities today are divided by racial, cultural and economic factors. In a local survey, young people expressed a desire to be connected to their communities while acknowledging that this is often not the case. Systemic inequities permeate all sectors of our city, perpetuating segregation, generational marginalization and vast disparities in wellbeing from neighborhood to neighborhood. For young people—and our communities— to thrive, they need safe, inclusive spaces to come together and connect.


Barriers to Learning

We all face challenges in our daily lives when stressful environmental factors build up and go unaddressed. For school-age young people, any number of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) can make it difficult to learn and succeed. A recent survey revealed nearly 85% of youth thought they would graduate from high school; yet 1 in 5 students surveyed did not graduate in 4 years. 

Lack of Access to Opportunity

Without access, there can never be equity. More than two-thirds of the mis-termed "achievement gap" between lower- and higher-income students is due to lack of access to learning opportunities over the summer. To begin to level out this opportunity gap, young people need access not only in the summer, but year-round, to learning and enrichment opportunities that serve as a conduit for self-determination. 


1. & 2. It Takes a Village: Making Cincinnati a Better Place for All Youth

3. Summer Can Set Kids on the Right—or Wrong—Course


WordPlay is a grassroots-founded nonprofit organization committed to activating the strengths of children and teens in a safe, inclusive and inspiring place. We infuse arts-in-healing practices in our writing, arts-infused storytelling and performance programs where young people learn in community, uncover personal narratives and have their voices

be heard and valued.

Through multi-disciplinary workshops, integrated arts programs in schools and partnerships with community organizations, we provide a platform for self-determination through story, where young people claim power over who they are, what they are capable of, and how they want to show up in their communities.

"What you talking about?"


WordPlay Teaching Artists Brandon Isaac and Devin Burgess work with South Avondale 6th grader Keyatti Cordell to create a one-of-a-kind music video! Enjoy!

Creating "What you talking about?"

WordPlay Teaching Artists Brandon Isaac sits down with Keyatti Cordell to discuss the creative process, influences and inspiration behind the writing of his first song, "What you talking about?"

MLK Day 2021

Each year since 2015, WordPlay has been invited by the MLK Coalition to have teen poets compose an original spoken word piece for their annual event. This year, three of our young poets had the honor of crafting poems, then recording videos of their performances for the virtual celebration. Our thanks to the MLK Coalition for their partnership, and to our brave young writers, Esmeralda Reynoso Tomas, Aracelia Hernandez Lopez and Ariana Dickenson. 



From the smallest kindergartener to the tallest teen, every student who walks through WordPlay's doors has a story to tell. We want them to know that their stories are worth telling. Our thanks to Michael Holder of Holder Creative for this snapshot of our work. 


to help local kids and teens fulfill their potential through reading, writing and storytelling.

SINCE 2012:


children & teens (ages 5 to 18) have been reached by WordPlay programs


volunteers have been trained


books have been

given to

children & teens

WordPlay continues to grow each year because of people like you.



Subscribe to our email newsletter:



WordPlay Cincy

4234 Hamilton Ave.

Cincinnati, OH 45223



Success! Message received.