Boyhood Unravelled: A Writers Group

I’d been thinking for some time about a writers group for children who, for one reason or another, didn’t get a fair shake in their young lives.  As an adult who navigated a less-than-desirable childhood, I wanted to have a shot at these kids.  I’ve been playing catch-up for over half a century, and I know what it’s like to live without a soft place to fall.

I shared the idea with an acquaintance, a recently-retired high school teacher, who gave me a patronizing pat on the back, said “good for you,” and then went on to warn me about the caliber of youth with whom I would be dealing.  It wasn’t what I expected from a life-long educator.

I left that conversation even more determined to make my idea a reality.  I proposed the idea to The Children’s Home of Reading.  The organization houses boys who are, as the profession calls it, “in placement.”  That’s a catch-all phrase for children who have been removed from their homes due to alleged abuse and/or neglect.

The idea was met with enthusiasm from the clinicians. They got to work recruiting young writers and I got to work on a syllabus.  My group of boys (all volunteers, BTW) ranged in age from 12 to 18, and all had been victims of sexual abuse.

That was two months ago.  We recently finished our 4-week course and added a 5th week at my writers’ request.  The clinicians have asked me to do another group, one for boys with different issues.  And my first group wants to do another 4-week course.

At the end of the course, I asked the boys to come up with a name for the group.  I scribbled words on the whiteboard as the boys eagerly read their ideas.  We came up with the name “Pen to Paper Writers Group.”

We also came up with a tagline: “Expressing Who We Are.”  With pens.  On paper.  Imagine that.

Follow the boys’ story on this blog.


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