by Lindsay Warner, Age 16, United Kingdom
We all know how hard writing can be. The sad fact is that it’s a hard craft to master, from when you first put your pen to paper to that final editing stage. But nothing can beat the glow of satisfaction that comes when you realize your manuscript is as good as it can be, when you know that all your hard work has finally paid off. As you pat your inner literary dragon on the head and commend, “It’s a job well done,” you wonder, can this process be made any easier? The simple truth is no, it can’t. Yet it doesn’t seem quite so tough when you have a writing group backing you the entire way.
I have been a member of WAPPY (The Writing, Acting and Publishing Project for Youngsters) for a good few years now and they have always been the place to go when the writing got tough, and it seems I’m not the only one to view it as such. I have watched WAPPY blossom into the creative hub it is now, expanding from just a few young people to an astonishing 117 registered members, ranging from ages 5 to 18 years old.
“WAPPY gives me a space to concentrate on writing poetry and to be creative,” says Cassius Jackson-Callen, age 15, who has been a member of WAPPY since December 2009. “It is not like school where you are forced to follow a curriculum. You can be very creative. With WAPPY I have performed my own poems and a play to audiences. I also got to perform recently at the Ealing Apprentices Awards at Questors Theatre.”
Maia Hicks, age 9, describes WAPPY as “inspirational,” while 6-year-old Shangwe Gemma Igunza Thomas says WAPPY is a “happy” place to be with “very friendly” children. It is not only a hard-working environment, but also somewhere you can meet a ton of new friends with similar interests. Everyone always pushes you to do your very best and encourages you to try your hardest, even when you are on the verge of giving up.
When I asked the founder and director of WAPPY, Grace “Akuba” Quansah, what inspired her to start WAPPY, she said, “I realised there were a lot of creatively-minded young people who were not being challenged enough to develop their skills in creative writing and performance. I noticed a lack of opportunities for young people to have their works published in print and/or digitally. WAPPY was borne out of my overriding commitment to develop young people’s writing, artwork and performance of their written work, while creating publishing opportunities with local and global public exposure.”
Thanks to WAPPY, many young people across the London Borough of Ealing (as well as surrounding boroughs) have had amazing opportunities that they otherwise wouldn’t have had. Many members can now boast about having poetry and/or short stories published in a small anthology called The Soul of a Child – myself included! Some members have also been fortunate enough to perform at special events like the Ealing Apprentices Awards at Questors Theatre, for which the Mayor of Ealing was present; meeting for an audience with acclaimed poet and author, Benjamin Zephaniah; performing at the recent Reunion and Rebirth Five Year Anniversary WAPPY Showcase, to name just a few of the fantastic opportunities WAPPY has to offer.
What’s so great about the organisation is that it is so versatile. While, for myself and many others, writing is and always will be our main focus, for some performance, drama, and art are their passions. WAPPY caters to them all.
“My favourite thing about WAPPY is drawing our thoughts on special occasions, books and poems before writing because it often gives me inspiration,” says Maia. “WAPPY was made to inspire youngsters!”
If you are interested in joining WAPPY or know someone who would be, please email Grace at quansah (at) hotmail dot com or visit the WAPPY website at www.wappy.org.uk for more information. WAPPY is based in the London Borough of Ealing but young people from any borough are welcome if they can attend sessions punctually and have a passion to express their creativity.
Just remember one thing: a dream will always remain a dream unless you take steps to reach it. Joining WAPPY, or a group similar to it, could be a very important step in reaching yours. So choose a dream. Take a chance. Make a change. And most importantly: keep writing!
Lindsay Warner is a 16-year-old writer from London. She says, “Writing is a huge part of my life and takes up pretty much all of my time. When I’m not writing, I’m reading. When I’m not reading, I’m looking for a book to read. It’s a lovely, endless cycle. I hope to one day be a professional writer and it is my hope that LTC and WAPPY will both be stepping stones in my journey towards this goal.”