YourWords STL offers an array of workshops that allow young people to explore their creative side. The goal of these projects is to utilize art and evidence-based programming to improve writing skills, foster a love of reading and writing, encourage the development of identity and empathy, and inspire engagement in the community among marginalized youth.
The workshops use a range of mediums and topics as prompts for creative writing. In the past, these have included music, visual art, literature, movement, meditation, yoga, engineering, video, audio recordings, the natural environment, farming, and food. Each project concludes with opportunities for students to present their work to the community via an exhibit, performance, podcast, or published book.
Beginning at Marygrove in 2015, followed by Lift For Life Gym in 2016, YourWords STL led creative writing workshops each semester, and in July of 2019, we began providing creative writing and performance workshops for Dream Builders 4 Equity’s (DB4E) Summer Academy. Furthermore, we collaborated with 12 schools and organizations on eight different creative writing programs in 2021. These culminated in a diverse mix of projects: a student podcast series, a filmed lyrical play and live audience screening, a photography and poetry exhibit at St. Louis University’s Museum of Art, a poetry slam at the High Low, and informational science and storytelling videos by Washington University MARC U-STAR students.
In the summer of 2022, we began offering creative writing workshops as part of our partnership with Clay Community Resource Center (CCRC), in St. Louis’ Hyde Park neighborhood. A collaboration between St. Louis University, St. Louis Public Schools, LinkStL, and other area organizations, CCRC addresses the neighborhood’s need for afterschool programming. During the summer and fall of 2022, workshop series included Poetry and Performance with DB4E, Poetry and Podcasting with LinkStL, Creative Writing, Painting and Sustainable Farming with Phi Global and CCRC. With funding from the Missouri Arts Council, young people were able to build and plant raised bed gardens while engaging in creative writing workshops.