Harriet Goodwin's inspiring project
Monday, 30 November -0001
Posted On 2013-10-28 15:32:01 |  Last Update 2013-10-28 15:32:01 |  Read 3889 times | 0 Comments

Harriet Goodwin (author of Hex Factor, Gravenhunger and The Boy Who Fell Down Exit 43) blogs about her own project to encourage underprivileged children to read and write, Project Inspire.

In 2010 I decided to apply for some funding to deliver a project I had been thinking about pursuing for some time. As an author, I do a fair number of school visits, but was increasingly finding that the schools I visited were either well-to-do independent schools, or “clued-up” state secondaries, where the authorities rightly put literacy at the top of their priorities. I wanted to give the same opportunities to schools that had never had an author visit.

I hoped to inspire underprivileged children to read and write, and to help them believe that with determination and hard work, they could do whatever they wished. By giving a series of inspirational talks and creative writing workshops in deprived state schools, I wanted to make a difference, however small. I also planned to put books into the hands of children who did not own one (nearly a third of children in the UK do not own a book) and add to the stocks of depleted, and in some cases non-existent, school libraries.
I approached various UK foundations to no avail, but then stumbled across a charitable trust based in the US, the Columbia Foundation, which kindly agreed to put up the necessary funding for a two-year project, and in September 2011 I set to work.

During each visit I gave an inspirational talk to as many children as could fit into the school hall. I visited both primary and secondary schools, speaking to children aged between 7 and 15, and explained to them how I came to write my first book, The Boy Who Fell Down Exit 43, described my journey to publication, showed them my original manuscripts, took questions, used props to explore the plots of my books (including a “mini museum of artefacts”) and played a fun memory game.

I then took two interactive creative writing workshops, each for around 35 children, during which I concentrated on getting students' writing to spring off the page, worked on openings to stories and talked about characterisation. Every child who attended my creative writing classes received a signed copy of one of my titles, and the schools were also gifted additional books by a range of Stripes authors for their libraries.

I made around forty visits in all, visiting schools mainly in the Staffordshire/Shropshire area, and the project (which I called “Inspire”) was run as a NAWE project. Schools were selected with the help of members of the Schools Library Service, who identified the schools in greatest need: chiefly schools in deprived areas serving children with limited opportunities. I feel enormously privileged to have been able to undertake this project, and hope that the children enjoyed the experience as much as I did.
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