Teens Writing from the Heart of Illness and Healing

  • by
Laeleah Ndifon, Mayonna Rogers, Josie Heyman, Suzanne Edison at the Fall Final Reading

Laeleah Ndifon, Mayonna Rogers, Josie Heyman, Suzanne Edison at the Fall Final Reading

Teens Writing from the Heart of Illness & Healing is an week workshop for teens living with chronic health or mental health issues. It is being held at Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic in the central area and is open to teens aged 12 to 18 years. It is free.

The first workshop occurred this fall and we had 7 teens with a variety of chronic illnesses from sickle cell disease to asthma to unknown chronic illness. We also had a couple of students from the Hutch School who were here while their father underwent a bone marrow transplant for leukemia.

This workshop is designed and led by Suzanne Edison, poet and author. Suzanne is also the parent of a child living with an autoimmune illness and has written extensively about her journey as a parent. She has taught movement, writing and creative expression to teens in schools and formerly in her work as a psychotherapist. She is the family support director for the Cure JM Foundation, a member of the Family Advisory Committee at Seattle Children’s Hospital (SCH) and teaches a writing workshop for parents of children with chronic illness at SCH. Also teaching this next term, beginning in February, is Aaron Counts, poet, “Writers in the Schools: teacher and co-author of Reclaiming Black Manhood . Aaron has also worked with Youth Speaks Seattle and is the father of two children. Teens in this workshop can expect to be exposed to a variety of poetic forms and poets living and dead, from all over the world. We will also explore short story forms and use both visual and musical selections for writing prompts. Students are expected to come to all classes as we build upon our writing from week to week. Writing will occur both
in class and at home.

Building trust and learning to read aloud are part of the workshop. We read selections of our own writing to each other and get valuable feedback. Sometimes that feedback centers around needing clarification of words or ideas, sometimes the writer needs to know where the “power” or “juice” is in the writing. We focus on themes in the writing too. Because of building trust with each other, students are able to write about many emotional issues including but not limited to the pain of their illness; the fears, hopes, and joys of being a teen; and being a teen with a specific health issue. We look at how other writers deal with issues of depression, pain, sadness, crazy, joy, and hope.

Being able to tell your story is important. When we tell the truth of our lives as we know it, it enlarges the possibilities for others and ourselves. We gain strength from telling the truth. We might also touch someone with our words making them feel less alone. We will publish a journal of the writings and there will be a final reading of their work for friends and family.

Thursdays, February 6th -­ April 3rd
4-­‐5:30 pm (snacks provided)
Odessa Brown clinic.
2101 E. Yesler Way
Final Reading Date: Monday, April 7, 2014
Time: 6:30 pm

This workshop is being supported by a grant from 4Culture of King County.

Published in January 2014 newsletter. Written by Suzanne Edison