"The only constant is change."
At WordPlay, we’re always asking: How can we provide the consistency our families, partners and supporters need and stay responsive to shifting socio-economic, educational and creative environments?
Several months ago, we realized we needed to answer this question for our elementary-age programs in particular. As a result, we embarked on a journey to shift our after-school programming at the beginning of 2018. Those changes were the result of a process, starting with input from diverse voices, including people who know WordPlay well and those who don't. The WordPlay staff worked together to distill their input, understand patterns and identify opportunities—and the process dramatically influenced changes to our programs.
First off, we moved our partner program with Chase Elementary out of our Northside writing center and into the school. Our goal, to put equity front and center, focused on eliminating barriers to access (such as transportation) by increasing our programming in schools and other locations that allow us to reach children where they are.
In addition, we are committed to growing WordPlay’s school-day presence at Chase, and soon other elementary schools, based on the success of our school-based Writer's Room at Aiken High School. Since the room at Aiken opened in fall 2017, we are already reaching significantly more students, resulting in a deeper level of impact as we collaborate more closely with teachers, their curricula and the larger school community.
We believe that prioritizing community needs while maintaining a sharp focus on our mission—helping young people fulfill their potential through reading, writing and storytelling—is critical for our kids’ and WordPlay’s future. At the same time, we remain deeply committed to our WordPlay families and Northside neighbors, and others across the city who don't attend one of our partner schools. Still free and open to all students, our Saturday Young Writers circles will continue to meet until the end of the school year, when we launch a fantastic slate of summer workshops for students of all ages. So, if our storefront writing center seems quiet during the weekdays this spring, we hope you will see the space as a reminder of intense activity in the community and behind the scenes.
Rolling out in fall 2018, we will once again have weekday workshops that blend creative writing with other arts, and they will be open to young people from all neighborhoods and school districts, as well as homeschoolers. Keep an eye out for announcements this summer with more details, along with updates on the move of our headquarters.
In other growth news, I am proud to share that WordPlay is working alongside youth and community members in Lower Price Hill this spring. We are collaborating with Santa Maria and Community Matters to provide students aged 13+ with a six-week autobiographical and storytelling project, the first of our new creative programming series for Price Hill
This summer, we are also working with Project Connect, the Down's Syndrome Association, Clovernook Center and Academy of World Languages to bring the WordPlay way of approaching reading, writing and storytelling to over 150 more young people who have not connected with us before.
Thank you for your time, trust and support. It's because of you that WordPlay has the resources to bring these new participants into our family. We continue to learn a lot together, and I welcome your input and questions at any time. Please feel free to contact me by email, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Libby Hunter, Executive Director