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June 11-15 1-week Barrio Writers Event

Stephen F. Austin State University's James I. Perkins College of Education will host Barrio Writers, a free weeklong summer writing program, June 11-15 on the SFA campus.

This is the third year SFA is offering the program, which is tailored for students ages 13-21 with an interest in reading and writing.

Barrio Writers Homepage

Barrio Writers Facebook Page

Barrio Writers comprises chapters in cities across the state, including Austin and Houston. Dr. Heather Olson Beal, SFAassociate professor of secondary education, is coordinating the program for SFA and the Nacogdoches Independent School District.

The program offers free afternoon workshops in the McKibben Education Building on the SFA campus. SFA faculty and staff members serve as writing advisers who lead the workshops.

During each session, students read books, poems and song lyrics before discussing them as a group and then free write for 30 minutes. Through discussion, students relate the reading to their personal experiences by answering various questions. Students also can share their writing and receive critiques and constructive feedback.

"In this program, we don't focus on grammar or writing style. Instead, we focus on using one's voice for empowerment and identity," Olson Beal said. "The program's purpose is to have students work on content and expressing themselves. We want them to think about big issues in their communities and use writing as a tool to change the world around them."

After each program is complete, Barrio Writers founder Sarah Rafael García collects the written work and compiles the pieces into a book to demonstrate the participant's diverse backgrounds. Olson Beal said the opportunity for students to have their work published is one of the program's main benefits. SFA Press began publishing the yearly Barrio Writers anthologies in 2015.

Along with the workshops, students participate in multicultural field trips during the week. Also, a public reading of the students' work is hosted the Saturday following the program. This year's public reading will be July 1.

In addition to Nacogdoches ISD students in grades 6-12, SFA students 21 or younger also are encouraged to participate in the event, especially education majors as Olson Beal said the event is great for experience and one's résumé.

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Barrio Writers was founded by Sarah Rafael García, author of Las Niñas: A Collection of Childhood Memories, in June 2009.

The Barrio Writers program consists of free workshops & additional "Café 
Hours" (one-on-one tutoring) throughout the academic summer break & monthly cultural arts events during the school year for teens. Through these workshops & events, students will build their skills in reading, grammar, creative writing, critical-thinking and freedom of expression through the cultural arts.

One goal of the program is to publish an anthology collection of written works demonstrating the diverse backgrounds of teenagers. All profits from the book will be returned to the Barrio Writersprogram for future years. The long-term goal is to publish a new edition each year with hopes that more neighborhoods will adopt the program.

The writing workshops are designed to empower the teenage community while establishing a self-sufficient educational program that will represent community pride, perseverance & endless possibilities for following generations.