Question: What do you get when you bring together six talented young writers, one travel writing New Yorker, and a giddy summer intern, all in a room full of MacBooks and iPads?
Answer: An online travel ‘zine for teens, of course!
This past week saw the launch of 49 Writers’ newly re-branded youth outreach effort, WYAK: Write Young Alaska. For WYAK’s first youth workshop, travel writer Jenna Schnuer joined the 49 Writers team and volunteered her time in order to bring the free travel writing course to kids in the Anchorage area. Jenna was joined by six brilliant young writers who together created an online travel ‘zine of their very own—written by teens and for teens—by the end of the week.
Throughout the week the workshop simulated the pace and organization of a real newsroom. Each writer was an editor of a specific portion of the ‘zine, and each morning began with an opening staff meeting where the kids would report in on the progress of their particular sections. Through writing exercises, mini fieldtrips, and even an interview with the principal of Bethel Regional High School, the kids explored for themselves what it means to bring a sense of place to their writing. It was a joy watching these young writers bring their voices to the page, each expressing their own unique perspective of Alaska. Their work from the week is showcased on their own webpage, Alaska Out Loud: Teens Travel Alaska. Check it out and see for yourself just how hard these kids worked last week. Special features of the ‘zine include video footage of their interview with Bethel Regional principal, Janelle Vanasse, and a photo essay of the Loussac Public Library.
Be on the lookout for more exciting things coming from WYAK this fall as we aim to bring more programs like this to young writers in Alaska. Projects in the works for the coming months (for which this intern will mournfully be absent) include a mini write-a-thon at Spenard Farmer’s Market and a zombie themed writing contest!
Also, on behalf of the whole 49 Writers staff, I’d like to give a huge shout out to the folks at Teen Underground and the Loussac Public Library for hosting this workshop. Teen Underground proved a primo location for this project, and we are incredibly thankful that we were able to use such an awesome facility for our first WYAK event. Be sure to head on over to the WYAK Facebook page to see photos from the workshop, and to stay posted on upcoming events.