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Empowering Voices, Inspiring Futures: The Impact of RECESS’ ‘I Am An Author’ Program

In the heart of the summer, when school’s out, and opportunities for middle schoolers seem elusive, Rosalyn Walton Education & Enrichment Services (RECESS) stepped in with a groundbreaking initiative: the ‘I Am An Author’ program. Spearheaded by Dr. Sharon Jefferson, this program was designed to foster creative writing skills and empower young minds with a chance for economic growth. The recent success story of program participants earning royalties from their authored books and showcasing their work at a community event is a testament to the program’s profound impact.

One participant’s journey stands out, reflecting the transformative power of this initiative. An anonymous student, formerly facing challenges in peer interactions and battling self-esteem issues, found solace and expression through the program. Initially hesitant and withdrawn, this student struggled with confidence due to the unfortunate reality of bullying that often plagues middle school experiences.

Dr. Jefferson, recognizing this student’s potential and her need for a platform to voice her feelings and aspirations, offered guidance. Encouraged to write to her future self, the student penned a poignant piece titled ‘DEAR YOUNGER ME.’ This narrative not only allowed the student to articulate her struggles but also became a source of empowerment and a catalyst for her burgeoning confidence.

The climax of this student’s journey through the program was the Juneteenth Community Festival, where she and fellow participants were given the opportunity to showcase and sell their books. It was a moment of transformation and recognition. Her booth wasn’t just a place to sell a book; it was a pedestal for her burgeoning self-assurance, a tangible representation of her creativity, and a testament to her resilience.

The ‘I Am An Author’ program, beyond its literary aspirations, became a sanctuary for students. It was a haven where their voices were heard, their struggles acknowledged, and their creativity celebrated. Through the program’s innovative approach, these young minds honed their writing skills and discovered newfound confidence, resilience, and the potential to turn their creativity into an economic opportunity.

As we celebrate the success of these new authors, it’s been a pleasure for MCF to invest in this project through the Eugene F. & Elizabeth Hull Fund of the Manatee Community Foundation. The ‘I Am An Author’ program isn’t just about creating authors; it’s about nurturing futures, empowering voices, and fostering resilience in the face of adversity. These young authors aren’t just storytellers; they are the architects of their own inspiring narratives, poised to inspire countless others with their courage and creativity.