Sep 22

The YWP story

There is no one better to tell Young Writers Project's story than the people who live it... Tell us your story!


SAM AIKMAN

I joined Young Writers Project in November of 2017 and have loved being a part of the YWP community since then!

I have met other young writers through the site and have gone to many workshops and events hosted by YWP. Everyone is so supportive and kind; I always feel safe to share work on the site and at open mics.

Before I started an account on the site I was lost as to how my work could or ever would get published. It is such an honor now to be published in local newspapers and online. Thank you YWP!

- Sam Aikman lives in Richmond, VT and is a Community Leader at Young Writers Project


NARGES ANZALI

YWP allows me to express my thoughts about any range of things in a place I know that I won't be judged, and this is really important for me because it's a safe space in a chaotic world, where everyone is civil and you know that you will always be respected as a writer and as an artist.
- Narges Anzali of Weybridge, VT, is a YWP Community Leader and member of YWP's Voices for Change project.







CHARLOTTE HUGHES

Though I have always been told I have a gift for words, I never really thought of myself as a writer until the fall of eighth grade when I joined YWP. This site wants to hear my voice, the people genuinely care about my opinions and I feel like I have a place in this crazy tornado of a planet.

YWP opened up a new world for me of kind people and amazing opportunities that I am thankful for every time I log in to the site. YWP may not be a household name (yet!) but I hope that the people working so hard for this site know that they change lives every day.

- Charlotte Hughes is from Willsboro, NY and is a Community Leader at Young Writers Project




IZZY O'DONNELL

YWP is a really wonderful website and community, connecting people who lack connection, and helping them feel heard -- at least that's what it's done for me!

- Izzy O'Donnell of Hinesburg, VT is a YWP Community Leader. 










REBECCA ORTEN

What does Young Writers' Project mean to me? Well, during my nearly two years on the website, it's meant a lot of things. It's the bird symbol at the top of my screen every time I log in to Google, and usually the first thing I click on. It's downtown Burlington -- from the Burlington City Arts center to a small cafe. It's the people who introduced me to the site, now my best friends, several bad poems and encouraging comments later.

YWP has helped me grow not only as a writer but as a person. I've met people I never would have otherwise, explored the ways I can express myself, and stepped outside my comfort zone more times than would be expected when joining an online writing site. So to me, YWP is a teacher and friend, and I'm very glad to be a part of it.


- Rebecca Orten lives in Middlebury, VT and is a Community Leader at Young Writers Project

 
LENA GINAWI

Being part of Muslim Girls Making Change (MGMC) and our collaboration with YWP has been an eye-opening experience that has introduced me to skills I would have never attained in school.

YWP has contributed to enhancing my confidence and personal growth as an individual and a performer, as well asproviding a safe space for MGMC to discuss issues regarding our identity.

- Lena Ginawi, of South Burlington, studies at the University of Vermont and is a member of the national award-winning slam poetry group MGMC






KATY TURNER
I grew up in northern Vermont always looking for things. When I found YWP, I held on hard. I would race home after school every day, eager to write something that people would read and acknowledge and attribute to the person I wanted to be.  Eager for people to hear me. YWP wasn’t a fleeting or “stepping stone” thing for me -- it was my life. Carved me straight out of stone. Shaped me completely.

I studied creative writing in college. I received my MFA in poetry from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. I work in publishing now, am managing editor of a literary jo
urnal, and I still find poetry and language to be among the most important things in my entire world. I live in New York City. I’m surrounded by more stimuli than I could ever respond to, but not a day goes by that I don’t utilize and gush gratitude over the community, drive and confidence that YWP gave me. YWP will be with me forever. I can’t imagine it any other way.
- Katy Turner grew up in Georgia, VT, and is now managing editor of Bennington Review.


KEVIN HUANG

YWP helped me grow as an artist and gave me confidence in my work in art and photography. Over the years, I’ve received a tremendous amount of help from Susan Reid, who always encouraged me to submit photos and help with projects concerning YWP. Susan also played a part in my transition from high school to college.

I am a first-
generation college student. Because my parents couldn’t help me, I had to rely on myself and others, like Susan AND YWP, to guide me through the process.
- Kevin Huang is a chemical engineering student at University of Rochester






ELIZABETH MAGNAN

I joined YWP at the beginning of 8th grade, at the same time my family was considering an English tutor for me, because even though I read two books a day, I couldn’t form a coherent sentence. We never ended up getting that English tutor. Throughout 8th grade it seemed I was miraculously getting better at writing.

I continued writing on YWP and working in school … YWP helped transform me into a better writer and gave me more confidence. For this, I have to thank Geoff, Susan, and the rest of the YWP staff and community that has helped me along the way.

- Elizabeth Magnan grew up in Fairfield, VT, and is a nursing student at the University of Vermont.







ALEXANDRA CONTRERAS-MONTESANO

Without YWP, so many people’s lives would be missing so many things. You keep youth voice alive, youth art alive and a passion for writing alive.
- AlexandraContreras-Montesano, of Burlington, was a YWP Community Leader and 2018-19 National Student Poet for the Northeast, the nation’s highest honor for youth poets presenting original work. She is studying at Yale University.










REBECCA VALLEY

When I was in 6th grade and writing by myself in notebooks, I dreamed of being published in YWP’s newspaper column. I hadn’t realized there was an audience for writing from kids like me, and it gave me something to work toward. After getting fully involved, YWP offered me seemingly endless opportunities to stretch even further, and gave me a community of writers whose work and companionship I still cherish.

YWP is a community for creative and curious kids, and it gave me incentive to keep searching for those kinds of supportive, creative communities – through work, graduate school, and beyond – as an adult. Thank you for teaching this kid from the middle of nowhere that there are people in the world who want to hear the stories floating around in her head. I’m definitely a better writer because of YWP, but YWP made me a better person, too.
- Rebecca Valley grew up in St. Albans, VT and is a graduate student in creative writing at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where she also teaches writing.


RIVAN CALDERIN

Young Writers Project allowed me to be part of a group in which I could actually accomplish things that I would never have been able to achieve in high school.
- Rivan Calderin, of Burlington, studies at the University of Vermont and was a member of the planning group for YWP's Voices for Change project.






OLIVIA PINTAIR

I first realized that I could believe in myself and my capacity to create because YWP believed in it. I got to call myself a writer because YWP told me I was one.

And most of all, I got to bloom into the understanding that my words and voice have value inherently. Young Writers Project has changed my life.
- Olivia Pintair, of Williston, VT, studies at Middlebury College.








KIRAN WAQAR

YWP greatly impacted me and the formation of Muslim Girls Making Change. I can confidently say I, and MGMC, wouldn’t be where we are without the support and guidance YWP provided.
- Kiran Waqar, of South Burlington, studies at American University, and is a member of the national award-winning slam poetry group MGMC.










WHAT EDUCATORS SAY

JOE DEFFNER

This is my sixth year using Young Writers Project and I love what it does for my English class. The really wonderful thing about YWP is that it’s accessible for all kinds of students – not just the ones who excel at writing. And while I do use it for enrichment, I have been able to engage all levels of students using this program.

What is particularly exciting is when one of my students who doesn’t think of him/herself as a writer learns that their piece is going to be published in the local paper. They see their name in print for the first time and the explosion of confidence – to say nothing of how proud their parents are – is almost magical. I’m not really sure what I would do if there were no YWP.

- Joe Deffner is an English teacher at Thetford Academy in Thetford, VT.







SEAN MCMANNON

I love to read the powerful, clever and insightful writing of our young people each week in the local newspaper and online. Their words make me laugh, cry and think. 

YWP provides a safe, respectful and professionally supported medium for students to express themselves and continue to hone their communication and writing skills. These skills are the bedrock of future opportunity and success for students from all walks of life as they pursue their academic, career and life goals
.
-Sean McMannon, Superintendent, Winooski School District








KATHY GALLAGHER AND RICH BOYERS

It’s not an exaggeration to say that weaving YWP into our middle school language arts curriculum has been a game changer. When students write for an authentic audience beyond the classroom walls, they engage more meaningfully in the writing process and are motivated to put forth their best effort.

When they or their classmates get published in one of the YWP collections or partner organizations (The Voice, the YWP Anthology, the Burlington Free Press, VT Digger, and VPR) they see what we teachers know: they are writers. Time and time again, we’ve witnessed sincere excitement and pride when students of all writing levels received feedback on a piece they posted on YWP or learned their work was going to be published. We’re grateful for YWP’s commitment to giving our students a voice in our community, and we’re grateful for those who see the value of YWP and support their efforts.

- Kathy Gallagher and Rich Boyers, Edmunds Middle School teachers, Burlington, VT



STEVE GLAZER

Each year, I encourage 30-40 students to prepare manuscripts for submission to Young Writers Project. Some years, I have the pleasure of seeing a dozen (or more) faces light up as the students see their work appear in The Voice, the Valley News, and the Anthology.

My students attend conferences, participate in readings, serve as VPR commentators, read, write, and learn. They become members of a literate, vibrant, and engaged community. 

As an English and composition teacher, I find Young Writers Project to be an ideal ally. YWP helps my students seek, find, and share their voices. With the support of YWP, they practice the craft of writing, develop eloquence, and learn what it means to speak truth to power with love.  

- Steve Glazer teaches at Crossroads Academy, Lyme, NH, and has worked with YWP for five years. Read a local news feature on "Mr. Glazer."



WHAT SUPPORTERS SAY

LISA VENTRISS

For more than a decade it has been a point of pride within the Roundtable to have played a role in launching this impactful organization.

Young Writers Project has been essential in developing a cadre of students – and future employees – with measurably improved written skills, with self-confidence developed through self-expression, and who understand how to be supportive colleagues.
- Lisa Ventriss is President of the Vermont Business Roundtable and a longtime supporter of Young Writers Project









GIOVANNA JAGER

As a lifelong entrepreneur and female founder who understands the need for powerful communication, it is clear that Young Writers Project is a platform designed to give the gift of communication to the next generation in a time when we need their voice to be present more than ever. Young Writers Project truly matters.
-Giovanna Jager is a designer and owner of The Karma Bird House, 47 Maple Street, Burlington, VT, where Young Writers Project has its offices and holds workshops in the rooftop conference room and Maglianero Cafe.









HILLARY READ

Young Writers Project is an incredible, formative resource for school-age Vermonters of all backgrounds. Giving kids a place to develop their writing, a chance to get their writing seen, a judgment-free zone to express themselves, a place to build a supportive community - I don’t think you can put a value on that.

So many young Vermonters have learned to spread their wings thanks to YWP - whether it’s a farm kid from the Northeast Kingdom or an LGBTQ kid from the New North End, everyone is welcome and encouraged to find and broadcast a unique voice. It’s an organization that helps fulfill the idea of Vermont as a place where all are welcome and accepted, and I’m incredibly proud to support it.

- Hillary Read is a member of the board of directors of Young Writers Project, a journalist and a marketing specialist at 3Q Digital, Burlington


 
Since Young Writers Project's beginning in 2006, we have inspired, mentored, published and promoted the work of more than 110,000 young writers and artists.
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