What is the most powerful skill you can think of? A skill that can create worlds, reach across cultures and fill people with warmth. The answer is simple – storytelling.
The Young Writers project, piloted in SOS Children’s Villages Azerbaijan in 2016 and now also running in SOS Children’s Villages Georgia and SOS Children’s Villages Kazakhstan, encourages children who have lost parental care or are at risk of losing parental care to write stories and fairy tales. Some of these stories are available in a new collection called the Book of Young Writers 2017.
“The power of words can introduce you to who you really are and make you think about the world around you. What was the first story you read? A fairy tale,” explains Fidan Suleymanova. “This becomes even more precious when it’s written by a child.”
Central to the Young Writers project is the idea that supporting children from disadvantaged backgrounds in using their imaginations and writing creatively is a way to encourage reading and writing, giving them tools to explore how to look at their lives in a new way.
Ultimately, they will be able to share this gift with their own friends and families, meaning these skills can be spread throughout their communities.
According to Fidan Suleymanova, writing a story is a “very personal act”, which reveals insights into the writer’s personality, hopes and fears.
As part of the project, a professional psychologist works with children and reads their stories to learn more about them and provide support where needed.
“We also aim to inspire the children to engage in bigger projects,” adds Ms Suleymanova. “During the project implementation, the project team explores opportunities with children’s magazines, so the best fairy tales have the chance to be published. This motivates and inspires children to read and write more.”
Currently, 40 children have already participated in the project. Many have shown a huge interest in continuing to write creatively. “I love writing. One day I will be a poet!” says one young writer, a participant from SOS Children’s Villages Azerbaijan.
To create the book, children send their stories to the project coordinator who translates these stories and draws illustrations to accompany the fairy tales. This is then the basis for the book, which brings together stories by children in SOS programmes around the world. The books are renewed regularly, reaching out to and motivating more and more children to begin creating their own adventures.
For more information on this project, please contact Fidan Suleymanova: Fidan.Suleymanova@sosushaqkendleri.az
Take a look at the stories and fairy tales!