Sitting in circles and armed with pens and notebooks, children from low-income communities in Austin, Texas, come together to sharpen their minds through the art of creative writing.
In creative writing workshops, youth between the ages of 6 and 18 learn how to bring life to their writing through the use of metaphors and similes, when to use a colon instead of a comma, and how to find their own personal writing style through the composition of poems, songs, short stories and essays. Along with mastering the written word, students at Austin Bat Cave’s (ABC) writing and tutoring center are encouraged to create their own story of success by furthering their education to help break the cycle of poverty that plagues their communities.
ABC is a nonprofit organization that provides in-school and after-school tutoring, mentoring and project-based writing workshops such as college essay preparation and SAT preparation. The MDRT Foundation awarded a $2,500 grant to ABC to fund the Hand and Wing program, a school-based project that works with high-achieving, low-income students from middle school through high school with a focus on college preparedness. Past MDRT President, Clune J. Walsh Jr., CLU, a 54-year MDRT member and Silver Knight of Birmingham, Alabama, sponsored this grant.
“I have witnessed [ABC] make tremendous strides serving more than 760 students in the past year alone,” explained Walsh. “…strong writing and reading skills extend across all professions.”
All of ABC’s programs are offered free-of-charge, and the diverse writing workshops cover a multitude of writing genres including songwriting, newspaper reporting, poetry and hip-hop rap. Adult volunteers are vital to the success of ABC’s programs, and lead the development of the organization’s lesson plans. Volunteers are also committed to mentoring the youth, which makes ABC a simple, yet effective way to instill the value of education through the process of putting pen to paper.