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50 for 50 Day Five: Write Girl

May 22, 2011

Thanks for hanging in with me. It’s my 50th Birthday Celebration, Day Five.

Here’s the deal: because I have everything I need, I am asking people to get involved with charities, if they are so inspired, in honor of my birthday. And in honor of caring humanity and all that good stuff.

I will feature a different charity each day for the 50 days leading up to my birthday to give you plenty of chances to get involved. You don’t have to donate or act every day, of course, or at all. But I wanted to give a voice to different good works around the globe. If you ARE inspired to take action, please leave me a comment and let me know that you did. This is all I want for my birthday – to spread some love and kindness. Thank you, my dear friends.
When I lived closer to Los Angeles, I was involved in WriteGirl, a writing mentorship program for young women. Not only is it a great cause (women! writing!) but it was the most fun organization I have ever had the pleasure of being involved with.

It works like this: each high-school age girl meets weekly with a mentor who is a professional woman writer. They practice writing together. The mentor also helps with college plans, essays, application letters and in general keeping the girl on track.

Then once a month, all of the volunteers (some volunteers don’t have a mentee, but work in other capacities) and mentees meet for an all-day writing workshop. In the morning, there are exercises and prompts and lessons. Everybody writes. Each workshop is on a different type of writing – songwriting, screenplays, journalism, poetry, etc. In the afternoon, depending on the day’s theme, actors may show up to perform the dialogue the girls have written, musicians to put music to their lyrics – and because this is in Los Angeles, some of the people who show up are famous or who have produced famous works the girls have seen or have written songs they have heard on the radio.

Jennie Garth from Beverly Hills 90210 has stopped by to do scenes. I remember one workshop where the girl I was helping got her dialogue performed by an actor she had an absolute crush on from seeing him in a movie, and it was so amazing and awesome to see this shy girl have her eyes opened – “Hey, I can DO this.” It is magic. I left every workshop walking on air.

All of the girls who have gone through Write Girl go to college. Many of them are the first in their families to do so.

Their mission:
To introduce girls to a wide variety of writing genres;
To teach a robust set of writing and critical analysis skills;
To encourage girls to explore and develop their creative talents, both written and oral;
To nurture girls and promote healthy behaviors and life choices through positive mentoring relationships with women writers;
To assist girls in preparing for college;
To inspire girls to pursue careers in writing, such as journalism, public relations,screenwriting, songwriting, corporate communications, publishing, website content producing, editing or creative writing;
To equip girls with communication tools to confidently navigate the challenges they face; and
To produce a full slate of program activities throughout the year so that we may serve as many girls as possible (including seven full-day writing workshops annually, a gala public reading and publication of a book each season, college visits and other special outings, and ongoing creative writing mentoring).

Thanks for any and all help for the WriteGirls. Donate here. You can also support WriteGirl by buying their excellent publications, which are anthologies of work done by the mentees and mentors. They make great gifts!
Nothing Held Back Book Cover
This is my favorite WriteGirl book because it has a story about my cat Antonio, written by one of the girls.

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