Words Alive!

"At-Hope" Youth Overcome Obstacles


On Tuesday, June 6, the Chuck Jones Gallery in San Diego hosted a reception for the publication and release of "Presence: An Invitation to Be Your Creative and Authentic Self". This anthology along with related stop-motion animated films were the product of a collaboration between the nonprofit Words Alive! of San Diego County and the Chuck Jones Center for Creativity. Each year, Words Alive! works with "at hope" youth, youth who have been or are incarcerated, in foster care, or out on parole, helping them achieve and succeed in school. For 18 years, Words Alive has been an ardent leader in the movement to make reading matter for families, children and teens in San Diego County, giving them the necessary tools for success and the ability to transform their lives. A key component to making this happen relies on our partnerships and collaborations with the community. Our longest-standing partner in this effort has been with Momentum Learning (Juvenile Court and Community Schools) through our Adolescent Book Group and writing program. Designed to reinforce the act and practice of reading and writing within a population of teens who face extraordinary circumstances, trained facilitators spend many hours each month delivering a specially-designed curriculum to over 350 students, reigniting their interest in reading. The collection here — letters the students penned themselves to accompany the animated short films they created around the theme of “presence,” represents many months’ work with Words Alive writing instructors alongside our partners at the Chuck Jones Center for Creativity. Always identifying deeper and more meaningful ways to connect to text and to support the students’ storytelling ability, the Chuck Jones Center for Creativity and Words Alive developed this opportunity for students to explore creative and transformative avenues of expression and understanding.

It was an awesome partnership! To view a selection of the student films on YouTube, click here. To purchase the anthology, "Presence: an Invitation to Be Your Creative and Authentic Self", click here. The anthology is the most hopeful book you'll read this year, it's highly recommended!

Here's an example of one of the poems you'll discover in the anthology:

"I am mad and frustrated, I wonder if I have to do this, I hear my teacher nagging, I see a blank paper, I want to do something, I am mad and frustrated.

"I pretend to do my poem, I feel my paper, I touch my pencil, I worry I'll fail this assignment, I am mad and frustrated.

"I understand that I should do this poen, I say I can't, I dream I could, I try my best, I hope I finish, I am mad and frustrated." --Dylan

Presence: An Invitation to Be Your Creative and Authentic Self


Words Alive, a leading literacy organization, provides integrative literary programming within 16 classrooms in Momentum Learning (formerly Juvenile Court & Community Schools), which includes a book club, writing program and annual arts project. Through this comprehensive programming, students experience attitudinal shifts toward reading, their education and futures, in addition to building upon their vocabulary, critical thinking, literary analysis and soft-skills.Each year through the Teen Services art program, our students have an opportunity to look at literacy through a different lens and find meaningful relationships to books and the world. As part of the arts program, students have an opportunity to make intrinsic connections to written text through a form of art they create.

This year, students will design their own stop animation film through a partnership with the Chuck Jones Center for Creativity. With this project, we focused on the theme "presence," and students read and discussed several prolific texts, including Between the World and Me (Ta-Nehisi Coates), The Crossover (Kwame Alexander) and Letters to a Young Artist (Anna Deavere-Smith) with groups of trained volunteers in the classroom.

Students wrote a letter about themselves to a person or place of their choice. The letter served as a basis for the subsequent art project: the animated films. As a culmination of text, book discussion and art, students will have an opportunity to showcase their animated films at an event, open to the public, from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, June 6 at the Chuck Jones Gallery (232 Fifth Ave, San Diego, CA 92101) with an online gallery available on the Words Alive website to follow: www.wordsalive.org.

To learn more about the reception at the Chuck Jones Gallery and to RSVP, click here.

Words Alive and Chuck Jones Center Collaborate on "Presence" Project


Chuck Jones Center for Creativity has collaborated with the San Diego-based non-profit, Words Alive, to bring an art component to their most recent project. Words Alive works with under-served youth in the schools of San Diego County instilliing in them a love of reading that will last a lifetime. This year, the project is "Presence, an Invitation to Be Your Creative and Authentic Self" and the students will be reading Ta-Nehisi Coates "Between the World and Me" and illlustrating their concept of the project through stop-motion animation. Which is where the Chuck Jones Center for Creativity comes in. 

Craig Kausen, grandson of Chuck Jones and Board Chairman of the Center along with Denise Dion-Scoyni, Lead Teaching Artist, and Naylene Justis, a teaching artist at the Center met with the volunteer staff of Words Alive a couple of weeks ago and shared with them the ways and means of producing a short stop-motion animated film. The Words Alive volunteers will then take their new found knowledge and share it with the students participating in the program. 

Art produced in the creation of these short, animated films, will be displayed at the Chuck Jones Gallery for a reception honoring the students and their work in early June of this year. Watch this space for details.