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“This program has not only improved their writing abilities but also fostered a love for storytelling and communication that will benefit them for years to come.”

– Kyla Barbosa, Josh Kraft Mattapan Teen Center

Inspired by its mission to offer young people the support they need to explore their passions, find their purpose, and reach their full potential, Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston (BGCB) recognized a tremendous opportunity in partnering with Write the World, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving teenagers’ writing skills and confidence.  

The result? Teens discovering the joy of writing as a powerful, and also fun, means of self-expression. 

“When you write, it doesn’t matter if there are mistakes in it or not. You can start over if you want, but you can also keep those mistakes as part of it,” recalled Chandler, a teen who attends Josh Kraft Mattapan Teen Center and is a Write the World program participant.  

“I liked the program so much that I would arrive early and start doing the activities on my own before anyone else even arrived,” he continued. “I would just be there on my own, doing it by myself.”  

This collaboration provided young people with a consistent platform over six weeks to express themselves, connect with peers, and develop essential writing skills. In total, the teens created nearly 200 original written pieces throughout the duration of the program. 

A Shared Vision for Youth Empowerment

The partnership between BGCB and Write the World is based on a shared commitment to youth empowerment. Since 1893, BGCB has focused on fostering academic success, health and wellness, and workforce readiness for youth across 22 out of 23 Boston communities and Chelsea.  

Club teens and Write the World program participants Tea (left) and Chandler (right)

Write the World, established in 2012 at Harvard University, enhances teenagers’ writing and critical thinking skills through various programs, including online communities, competitions, educational resources, and workshops. 

“As the founder of Write the World, it’s gratifying to see this supplemental writing enrichment program come to life at the Josh Kraft Mattapan Teen Center,” explained David Weinstein, Founder & CEO of Write the World. “Teens emerged with greater confidence after 6 weeks of writing, revising, giving and receiving peer feedback, and publishing their final words of change.” 

Club teens at the Write the World program open mic celebration night

Building Confidence through Writing

The six-week “Write the World, Afterschool” program at Josh Kraft Mattapan Teen Center engaged students in writing activities and peer reviews, covering personal narratives, poetry, opinion pieces, and fiction. These activities encouraged students to share their stories, connect with issues they care about, and develop communication skills useful both in and out of the classroom.  

One of the program’s strengths is its focus on peer interaction and self-reflection. Tea, another teen participant, shared, “Doing it weekly forced me to write more and taught me that the process of writing is okay and it doesn’t have to be right the first time. It’s okay if you need to delete it all, again, and re-write it. That’s basically all I did for six weeks.” The program’s emphasis on revising and improving writing helped Tea embrace the creative process. 

The collaborative environment also played a significant role. Tea added, “The fact that we did it all in a group made it really fun. The conversations you would hear in the room were really meaningful, and everyone helped each other and came up with ideas together.” This sense of community and support was crucial in building participants’ confidence. 

The Grand Finale: An Opportunity to Present

The six weeks culminated in open mic-style celebration that provided six writers with the opportunity to present their work to an audience of peers, staff, and other community members. 

David Weinstein, Founder & CEO of Write the World, noted, “At the concluding celebration, I was thrilled to see courageous teens stand up, speak out, and sing their words of change and identity in front of a live audience of cheering friends.” 

Club teen and Write the World program participant Cisco presenting his piece “The Invisible Man” during the culmination open mic celebration event

Some presented in the form of poetry, some collaborated with musicians to tell their stories, but one common theme of the evening was passion and vulnerability.

Looking Ahead

This collaboration demonstrates how strategic partnerships can accomplish remarkable results. In today’s technology driven, artificial intelligence-augmented society, the pastime of “putting pen to paper” and creating art with words is easy to overlook. As BGCB and Write the World continue their work, they look forward to continuing to share the joy of this form of art and self-expression with teens across Boston and Chelsea. 

“Through engaging prompts, peer reviews, and expert feedback, Write the World has cultivated a supportive writing community where students learn from each other and grow as writers,” explained Kyla Barbosa, staff member at Josh Kraft Mattapan Teen Center. “This program has not only improved their writing abilities but also fostered a love for storytelling and communication that will benefit them for years to come.”

Karma Freeman and Kyla Barbosa, Josh Kraft Mattapan Teen Center staff (left) with David Weinstein, CEO, President, Director of Write the World and Gabrielle Lieberman-Miller, Executive Vice President of Write the World (right)

Curious to learn more about BGCB? Learn more and get involved today.