Writing in the City is a fun and challenging creative writing workshop for Grade 6 children from our three neighbourhood schools. Created by writer Andrea Curtis, it is now lead by writer and arts educator Lindsay Zier-Vogel. The weekly after-school program is designed to stimulate creativity and encourage participants to explore different styles and approaches in their writing. The workshop focuses on building relationships, peer support and writing with confidence outside the school setting.

Writing in the City is divided into two sessions, the first running from September to November, the second from January to March. The group meets weekly for two hours after school in the basement Gallery of TYPE books, and snacks are provided.

In the first session, we use a mix of drama games, art, music, storytelling, and creative writing prompts to engage the children with basic writing techniques, such as dialogue, voice, plot, setting, character development or editing. The children may also have a chance to work on a larger project of their choice (a short story, comic or play, for instance), which they can share during a celebration with teachers and parents/caregivers at the end of the session.

During the second session, the Writing in the City kids continue to explore creative writing skills but also have a chance to work on a group project. In spring 2011, for instance, participants wrote, edited, designed and created ‘zines—wonderful mini, handmade magazines that featured their art and writing.

Writing in the City accepts a maximum of 15 children identified by their teachers from our three feeder schools (Charles G. Fraser, Niagara Street PS and St. Mary Catholic School). These kids receive close personal attention from our program director, volunteers and the York University Teacher Candidates (TCs) who participate in the program. The program coordinator and TCs are an essential part of Writing in the City and they help make it safe, relevant and lots of fun.

What the kids say…

“Writing in the City is a good, fun program for your kids. It lets your kids express themselves and they get to write whatever they want like I am right now, and they get to play games. This program will make your kid a better writer than ever. Your kid might even fall in love with the program and always want to stay! The best thing about it is that it’s free! Free I tell you, free!!!”—Jason

“My favourite part of Writing in the City is making zines.”—Mary

“I had a great time in Writing in the City. It helped me become a better writer! I would recommend it to anyone.”—Angela

“My favourite part of Writing in the City was that everything was creative. The thing I would like to stay the same is the volunteers because I think they were awesome.”—Ken

“I thought Writing in the City was a great learning experience and I have really learned a lot more than I expected. I love this program. Thank-you very much for teaching me stuff that I didn’t know before. Thanks!!!!”—Emma