October 12, 2023
Empowering young minds
Early Start, Story Factory and Big Fat Smile collaborate for an inspiring creative writing workshop
Early Start, Story Factory, and Big Fat Smile joined forces to bring a group of talented children from the Bellambi community to Early Start at the University of Wollongong campus on Tuesday 26 September (2023) for an exceptional creative writing workshop. This event aimed to ignite the imaginations of young minds, and encourage their creativity, under the expert facilitation of Richard Short from Story Factory.
Story Factory, a distinguished Sydney-based not-for-profit creative writing centre dedicated to inspiring young people in under-resourced communities, enabled the workshop. The collaboration was initiated by Lauren Weber from the School of Education who has had a long association with Richard Short from Story Factory. With Lisa Kervin (Early Start Research Director), the Story Factory was brought to Early Start. Karel Strooband (who works for both Early Start and Big Fat Smile) enabled children from Bellambi to come to campus for the event.
Students participating in the creative writing workshop at UOW. Photo by Lauren Weber
Early Start hosted the workshop, facilitated by Richard Short from Story Factory. The workshop included a variety of activities all centred around the imaginative concept of creating and meeting a ‘Robot Bird’, a fantastical creature that represents each individual and their unique qualities. The morning began with Richard narrating his own Robot Bird story and was followed by children creatively co-designing their personal Robot Birds. The children wrote poems about their mechanical feathered friends. The children had the unique opportunity to share their stories (complete with bird-like sound effects!) with the group at the end of the event. The day was filled with writing, laughter, and an outpouring of creativity, showcasing the boundless potential of young minds when provided with the right environment and encouragement.
The organisers would like to specially thank Big Fat Smile, Leanne Pattinson and Maddy Angelucci, for supporting children’s attendance at the event and Jessica Mantei from the School of Education for her presence on the day.
Children had an opportunity to share their stories with the group at the end of the event. Photo by Lauren Weber
Early Start, Story Factory, and Big Fat Smile are excited to have been part of this collaborative effort that not only brought the community together but also inspired and empowered young minds. This workshop embodies our shared commitment to nurturing creativity and educational opportunities for all children, regardless of their background. We hope this was the first of many such collaborations!
Story by Karel Strooband, Lauren Weber and Lisa Kervin