CORNWALL, Ontario - A collaborative writing project, which started last fall, has resulted in not only a published book, but a great source of accomplishment and learning for its participants.
With six separate Boys and Girls Club after school programs running across the city at six different locations, program facilitator Kari-Anne McKellar, wanted to do something to unite the different groups through a common project.
On average, with 35 children between the ages of 8 and 11, at each of the locations, it’s difficult to bring all the groups together under one roof, she said, so they embarked on a collaborative writing assignment where each club would write a chapter and the next would take over where the prior left off. The young authors were given the choice as to what the plot would be and where it would lead.
The only ground rules were that the story and characters had to be realistic, that it had to be school-age appropriate and that people’s names had to be changed. Consensus among the 51 children involved would be a story about bullying.
“This project helped me on my creative ideas and writing skills,” said Jarrett Poirier, 11, one of the book’s authors from the 506 Clubhouse. “It also helped me working with others.”
Children not only learned about writing, but the process also started many conversations about their own bullying stories, whether they had been bullied or had been bullies in the past, said McKellar. Almost all the kids had a bullying story to tell.
At a launch party in February, the authors heard the first reading of the entire story put together, and came up with the title “Be My Friend, Not a Bully.”
The children would also designed the cover and provide the illustrations for the book which has its own ISBN number, and is registered in the archives of Canada.
“This project helped me with my social skills,” said Phoebe Burns, 10, from the General Vanier program. “My wish is that everyone learns that you should not be mean, because you wouldn’t want anyone to treat you like that.”
“Be My Friend, Not a Bully” is available for sale at the Boys and Girls Club on First Street, for $10. Proceed from the sale of the book go back into the agency for general operations and upkeep.