San Diego takes on Project Write!

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Prince Sefa-Boayke

princeWith No Child Left Behind, schools and educators are forced to teach students to a test. This may not be where a teacher’s heart is, but schools face penalties if they fail to meet certain criteria. Meanwhile, many youth suffer from the creative freedom their predecessors enjoyed in learning. One of the foundational basics, writing, is becoming a lost art in schools across the country. But the birth of a new program aims to find this art in the souls of our youth.
Project Write is an ambitious new collaborative that brings underrepresented students from across San Diego together and teaches them the art of writing. “Our generation and younger generations, men and women of color – they are losing their creativity in writing,” reflects Prince Sefa-Boakye, political correspondent and writer for the San Diego Monitor. Sefa-Boakye shared thoughts discussed between himself and Ms. Cheryl Morrow, Editor for the Monitor – two of the founders of Project Write. “She said ‘The greatest writers in the world are not the ones in newspapers, the greatest writers are the ones who have no access – with only a pencil and a paper, and they create masterpieces.’”
Project Write will provide youth with a medium through which to express themselves. Sefa-Boakye presses that through the foundational skill of writing, youth will have a voice and the ability to accomplish a myriad of things.
“I didn’t always have a passion for writing. And generations today are experiencing the same thing,” says Sefa-Boakye. A San Diego native, Sefa-Boakye attended Coronado High School and earned a degree in social sciences with an emphasis in political science from San Diego State. It was during this time that Sefa-Boakye found his voice.
“I did an essay in high school for a speech contest. And I thought I would be bold to send this essay to Dr. Cornel West to see what he thought.” After just one week, Dr. West phoned Sefa-Boakye and praised his work. “If it wasn’t for him to look at my writing and offer his encouragement, I probably wouldn’t be here talking to you. That’s what I want to do with the youth here. That is why I am so motivated.”
Sefa-Boakye cited statistics displaying 50 percent of blacks and Hispanics in San Diego are dropping out of high school. He studied one school where the majority of students could not pass the California writing exam. “You have almost a majority of the student population dropping out of high school because they don’t have the proper tools to write. That’s a problem.”
Project Write will incorporate afterschool programs and workshops to engage students in writing. Led by industry professionals and educators, students will discuss topics and current events important to them, and then be given five minutes to write a reaction to the topic discussed. The timed writings will aid in students’ organizational skills and allow them to practice writing under pressure. After writing, more discussion will ensue, sparking debates. From the writings and discussions, students will be advised to write 500-word essays as homework assignments to be judged by instructors. This in turn, will allow the instructors to teach students grammar and how to connect to the reader, as well as developing their creativity and ingenuity. The students’ essays will be published in the Monitor.
“I like to call it a “breakfast club,”” says Sefa-Boakye. “We’ll sit down and talk about an issue. We want to talk about issues that matter from gun control to immigration. I believe that the youth today have something to say. I had a chance to talk to some of these kids and they are very knowledgeable about some of these issues.”
In addition to the writing component, students will be taught the basics of photography, and the interrelation of photography and writing. “We’re teaching the kids that they can use photography to promote writing. We’re giving these kids a voice and a professional photography space,” says Sefa-Boakye.
The students will receive copies of their published works, and Sefa-Boakye hopes to build their confidence through this measure. “Writing enables them to have a voice and be able to accomplish things. It has opened so many doors for me and now I want to influence kids to write.”
Currently Project Write is working towards impacting high school students, and soon, middle school students. Still working on the exact target market, Project Write hopes to expand throughout San Diego and Boston, where Sefa-Boakye is currently based.
Project Write’s website is pending, but please stay tuned for more information.

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