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Pongo :: Working with Troubled Teen Writers

Based out of Seattle, the Pongo Teen Writing Project offers a wealth of resources for those working with young writers, especially in similar populations as Pongo’s focus – teens who are in jail, on the streets, or in other ways leading difficult lives.Pongo provides writing activities and other resources for teachers, counselors, and advocates working with teens.

The Pongo Project Journal is a regularly updated blog of youth writing and advocate experiences. The most recent post is “The Color of Their Lives” by Pongo mentor Vanessa Hooper. Vanessa writes about her experience working in juvenile detention. In addition to the dark internal storms of the teens’ childhood trauma, and the greyness of the institutional settings where the youth find themselves, the Pongo authors also have vital lights, as expressed in the hopeful process of poetry.

This Pongo story is part of the following KING5 TV special, by John Sharify and Doug Burgess, about the role of the arts for people who are struggling: It’s Just So Powerful. (Note: I started watching this, and couldn’t stop! It’s extremely well done, and Pongo is the first story in the show, so you can catch it right away.)

Pongo collects surveys from their authors when there’s time at the end of a session and learned that one-third of their writers had previously written only a little or not at all. Pongo has collected over 700 surveys from their young writers with the following STUNNING results:

100% enjoyed the Pongo experience
98% were proud of their writing
73% wrote about things they don’t normally talk about
86% learned about writing
75% learned about themselves
83% felt better after writing
94% expect to write more in the future
92% expect to write when life is difficult

To learn more, visit Pongo Teen Writing Project and tell others about the writing activities and other free resources on the Pongo web site!

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