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  Young Writers Shine
- A Helen Bader Foundation Profile
"His voice sounded like he had nails in his throat."

For middle school student Dominique B., a short essay on the previous day's trip to the Milwaukee Art Museum didn't focus on the obvious, say, the art on the wall or the ornamental wings atop the building. For her, the most vivid impression was that of the raspy voice of a security guard.

At Woodland Pattern Book Center, creative writing is a vehicle to get city youth to think about the world in new ways, and to express themselves in their own unique style. Out of a storefront in Milwaukee's culturally eclectic Riverwest neighborhood, it offers literature and writing classes through after-school workshops, in-school programs and summer poetry camps for youth of various ages. A $3,000 Foundation grant is helping continue the program year round.

With so many teens immersed in technology and instant communication, it can be a challenge to ask them to put aside the headphones and cell phones, and just sit down and focus. Woodland Pattern works to help them write persuasively and passionately.

"Too often these children are presented with writing as sort of a punishment," said Anne Kingsbury, Executive Director. "We want them to become extremely comfortable in sharing their thoughts, opinions, and feelings, writing helps them do that."

Serving over 300 youth each year, Woodland Pattern's reading and writing programs aim to connect literature to other art forms, including guest artists representing theater, yoga, visual art, music, and film. At the end of the session, they can select $100 worth of books from The Center's bookshelves, which cover topics across the social spectrum. According to Kingsbury, it's become a powerful incentive to keep the students engaged through the process.

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