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The core of the WITS program involves writers working in schools, but WITS also provides activities in a number of other settings:
The Menil Project
What began as an experimental project in 1989 has become a nationally acclaimed, innovative use of visual art to promote creative writing. WITS writers may bring their students on field trips to the Menil Collection museum once each year. The writer and three WITS writers at The Menil lead students through the museum in groups small enough to allow both written and verbal response. Corresponding with the tour, a visual artist visits the students’ classrooms to lead an art project.
M. D. Anderson Cancer Center
One of the most rewarding WITS projects is the twice-weekly program at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center where WITS writers work with children being treated and their siblings. As writer Nicole Brogdon puts it, "Working here has reminded me that writing can draw windows out of a hospital room, and by extension, out of other difficult situations...helping us all to reconnect with human emotions. Never have I felt that my teaching was more needed than here."
Texas Children’s Hospital
The Texas Children's Hospital project began in 1998 and is modeled after the successful collaboration with M.D. Anderson. One writer works year round at the hospital with children in the Cancer Center and in the Bone Marrow Transplant unit. The Splendid Review, a quarterly newsletter of children’s writing from the project, is given to patients and siblings from TCH as part of the Arts in Medicine Program. In the summer of 2003, WITS also began work with children in the Renal Department. These children receive one-on-one writing instruction during their dialysis treatment.
School Literacy and Culture Project, Rice University
Since 1988, WITS has offered intensive workshops to children pre-K through 12th grade during the summer in collaboration with the School Literacy and Culture Project (SLC) at Rice University's Center for Education. The workshops are team taught by teachers and writers and include a trip to The Menil Collection. The Houston Press recently named the Summer Creative Writing Workshops Houston’s “Best Summer Program for Kids.”
Houston Young Writers Reading Series
Each spring WITS celebrates some of the most outstanding young authors in Houston at the Young Writers Reading Series. Locations include Discovery Green Park, the Menil Collection, and the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center.
Houston Arboretum & Nature Center
In the fall of 2002, WITS and the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center began a partnership to create an environmental writing program for inner city elementary school children. The vision of the project is to engage urban youth with their environment, exposing and educating students on the natural world. WITS writers lead classroom units on nature writing, culminating in a field trip to the Arboretum’s 155-acre forest sanctuary in the heart of the city. There, the students record and sketch as naturalists and write stories and poems inspired by their experiences. WITS publishes a collective anthology of the project and a special public reading for the participating schools is held at the Arboretum to celebrate the students’ writing.
Discovery Green Park
WITS offers free writing workshops on Saturdays from 10:30 am - 11:30 am at Discovery Green Park inside the HPL Express Library where WITS writers explore the joys of expressive arts using imaginative writing exercises and craft activities. WITS will provide all necessary writing materials. This FREE program is recommended for grades 2-8 and continues throughout the summer. No registration is required, and walk-ins are welcome.
For a full listing of WITS community partners this year, please visit Community Programs.