Word Up!

Posted by Thea King on 17th July 2018

Our Director Lucy Mcnab reports from Word Up! in Amsterdam, where hundreds of writing centres across Europe have come together to talk imagination, storytelling and building a world of young writers.

A range of print written by children is laid out underneath flags of Europe


“Do you know my mother’s name means Dream? And her family name means Big. Dream Big, that’s what artists do, right?” Soufian, age 8, Amsterdam

Last week, founders, volunteers and staff from 16 creative writing organisations gathered in Amsterdam for three days to share, learn and celebrate.

The group represented 11 countries from around the world, with our worldwide network of writing centres taking our inspiration from 826 National, in the USA. Founded by writer Dave Eggers and educator Nínive Calegari in 2002, these writing centres all hide behind fantastical shops and are dedicated to helping children write their own paths forward.

Together we work with 147,000 children each year to support their creativity, confidence and craft.

Hosted by Noordje, the conference featured stories of children and young people from across the network that helped to inspire and challenge our programme. There are some inspiring programmes to learn from – La Grande Fabbrica Delle Parole is working with deaf children to write about experiencing music, Ordskælv in Denmark engages with young people to write about death and 826 National has recently launched 826 Digital, an incredible free resource of creative writing lesson plans for teachers.

The Ministry of Stories is working together on a number of exciting projects coming up over the next year. We are part of an 826 Literary Passport, to enable visitors to travel around the globe, getting a stamp in each writing centre. We have contributed to an international edition of Don’t Forget to Write, a book of lesson plans for teaching the most engaging creative writing workshops. We are also sending two student delegates to the International Congress of Youth Voices, in San Francisco this August.

The Congress brings together 100 young writers aged 15-20 for a weekend of workshops, discussion and hearing from inspirational speakers such as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Jose Antonio Vargas. We look forward to hearing back from our delegates, Hafizah and Marwa, who will be travelling with their teacher from our Associate School, the Bridge Academy in Hackney.


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