Lucky us! FunDza has been awarded a grant to run its WriteSmart writing clubs with three beneficiary groups in Gauteng. We are grateful to the Gauteng Department of Arts and Culture for their support.
Writing is often seen as a chore at school. We are trying to break that relationship. Writing clubs help us to express ourselves in a personal way and use writing to develop our thinking.
The real power and purpose of the WriteSmart workshops is to establish a safe and comfortable space for writing. A lot of it is freewriting, where the only rule is that you can’t lift your pen from the page. This frees us from our inner critic, and inevitably this kind of writing is personal and often poignant.
The beneficiaries chosen – due to their excellent and prompt FunDza feedback over the last while! – were after-school programmes Olico and Siyaphila, and Thaba Jabula Secondary School. Each will aim to have 25 learners per club.
To get the ball rolling and test out some content we recently ran a small workshop, including two people who will be running the club at Thaba Jabula, and one representative each from Olico and Siyaphila. It ended up being quite an intense experience – it took us just two hours to whizz through writing activities that would usually keep groups going for a few sessions. The result was some very moving pieces read out loud by participants.
We were very impressed with the calibre of our first set of facilitators, and are sure that we’ll get very useful feedback about this pilot course.
Within these pilot writing clubs we will be experimenting with structured writing activities, created exclusively for FunDza by South African author and writing facilitator Sandra Hill. They will run in the third and fourth school terms.
FunDza will be supplying a comprehensive curriculum for the clubs, to see whether this structured approach is what people have been asking for. Facilitators will know exactly what exercises to do in each session.
We will also be fostering a sense of community with FunDza-branded materials and notebooks for the learners, which will hopefully also nurture their identity as a writer.
Once we’ve fine-tuned things after the pilot course we’ll be a step closer to changing attitudes towards writing, so it’s seen as a pleasure rather than a chore!