Tuesday, April 12, 2016

It's All About WAR

     My life the last few months and especially the last few weeks has been all about WAR, a writing and reading conference for teens. The event has come and gone, but the reflection has just begun. This is the first conference of its kind in the region where I live. My fellow organizers and I had high hopes or reaching at least 100 participants. We did that and more.
      Do you know how gratifying it is to see young people engaged in learning more about writing and in displaying an eagerness to discuss their favorite books? Well, if you're an English nerd, it's quite appealing. Kids went to sessions about finding their voice, screenwriting, journalism, writing for video games and so much more and came out of those classes excited.
     One breakout focused on music and poetry. Lead by a Native American hip hop artist, these participants followed Mic Jordan's instruction and penned a rap about individuality and freedom from bullying. Powerful words that need to be taken to the next level.
     At the end of the day, teens gathered for a Slam, a debriefing of sorts where they shared conference highlights. We also saw Mic Jordan gather participants from his class and perform their rap. Amazing kids doing amazing work.
      The conference wouldn't have been possible without the generous support of organizations such as Altru Alliance, GF Foundation for Education, the Kiwanis and Optimist Clubs, Scheels, Thrivent Financial, Dakota Commercial, booster clubs and other donations. These were organizations who in blind faith gave us thousands of dollars because they believed in our vision. Incredible. We are deeply indebted to their support.
     On Sunday I thought about the previous day and the weeks leading up to it. Was all the work worth it? Would I do it again? It was and I would. Getting kids excited about words is important. In fact, I won't be surprised at the impact the experiences from this weekend will make on the kids. Investing my time for kids is worth the trouble. Indeed, it can make all the difference.

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