A Journal for Incarcerated Youth

In my eight years at WritersCorps, I’ve been proud of many things. I’m proud of what we do every day — educating young people and providing them with safe spaces to express themselves and free their imaginations. I feel incredibly privileged to work with a group of artists and writers who are creative and caring mentors. I’m proud of our students, many of whom face difficult challenges.

One thing that I’ve been especially proud of lately is a project called Words Within the Walls. It’s a journal for incarcerated youth, and it was created by WritersCorps Teaching Artist Anhvu Buchanan, who is a poet. Anhvu taught for WritersCorps at the Juvenile Justice Center, which is San Francisco’s juvenile hall. His students were constantly asking him for extra paper so they could continue writing outside of class time. As a solution, he put together a creative writing journal that contained lined pages, poems by his students, and writing prompts to help them get going.

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We delivered our first print run to San Francisco juvenile hall last spring. It was such a success that we decided to reprint it and share it with other programs that work with incarcerated youth across the country. We launched a fundraising campaign in hopes of printing 5,000 journals.

A lthough we didn’t meet our goal, we did raise enough funds with the help of 77 generous people to reprint 2,500 copies of the journal. They recently arrived in the office and we’ll be shipping them out soon to other organizations. This is what 700 pounds of journals look like! Thank you to everyone who made this possible.

You can also access a digital copy of Words Within the Walls here.

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