Pongo Teen Writing an Abendago and Y-Art Project
Not long ago, one of our clients was featured on King5 News in the segment "Making a Difference". The Pongo Teen Writing project was developed as a volunteer, non-profit service out of Seattle with the goal of working with local teens who are in jail, on the streets, or in other ways leading difficult lives in writing poetry as way to work through difficult emotional issues. Through the writing process, the Pongo Teen Writing project helps teens express themselves through poetry and other forms of writing to begin dealing with the struggles, challenges and emotional turmoils they have and continue to go through on a daily basis.
These teens often battle severe emotional and physical challenges that are the result of the challenging circumstances growing up and the difficulties of dealing with these wide ranging emotions in an appropriate and safe manner. As the founder of the site, Richard Gold states,
"While the poems that the teens produce are often terribly sad, the act of expressing themselves is often a relief, even joyful, and helps these young people to better understand and cope with their powerful emotions. They may cry as they write, but they feel happy afterward. Also, they are proud of their creative accomplishments, including the possibility of publication."
Writing poetry, and other forms of expressive writing, have often been seen as a natural way to begin the healing process after facing difficult challenges. However the process of writing poetry can be a difficult one with support often needed to help students get through the initial bumps and reluctance.
In developing the idea for the Pongo Teen Writing project, Richard Gold very clearly set out three goals that would become the focus for the development of the project. He felt that, in order to move the project forward and grow it from it's grassroots, their needed to be a way to inform the community, teachers and teens about how the project
Helps distressed teens through self-expression in the form of writing poetry
Allows teens to see that their words, thoughts, expressions and emotions are valid expressions of who they are and their pasts through the editing and publication of their work.
Helps teens through the structures and styles of writing to remove any barriers to allowing teens to express their feelings, ideas and histories.
In order to starting spreading the vision, message and ideas for using writing to help teens through their emotions, Richard Gold felt that a website would help people in the community and in the world at large understand better the ideals and successes of the project. He also wanted an area that would serve to spread the resources necessary to help other communities begin using writing with teens. As the web development group in charge of doing this, Abendago was extremely proud and excited to be a part of something that could significantly change people's lives. We wanted to build something that would capture the essence of the core values for the vision. We also wanted to make sure that the structure of the site did not inhibit the creative process, but allowed the goals to be the primary focus.
Through the ability of the website to inform, share and connect teens and mentors and provide a safe resource in beginning exploring some of these very personal issues, the Pongo Teen Writing project has ultimately helped teens produce 13 books, distribute 13,000 copies of our books and surveys of Pongo authors indicate that 100 percent enjoy writing with Pongo. 70 percent write on issues they don’t normally talk about, 30 percent are new to poetry, and 95 percent expect to write more in the future.