First Story’s regular ‘Connect’ events encourage young people to connect with each other, as a community of writers, as well as connecting to local higher education and cultural provision.
“Schools which ensure pupils have access to memorable life experiences, outside normal life and school routines, and also actively nurtured pupils’ authentic voices, are more likely to narrow the attainment gap for disadvantaged young people.”‘CLOSING THE GAP’: RAISING ACHIEVEMENT FOR DISADVANTAGED PUPILS, UNIVERSITY OF WARWICK CENTRE FOR EDUCATION STUDIES, 2016
We collaborate with respected museums, galleries and universities to create unique experiences for First Story participants. Connect events have a strong education focus, planned in close collaboration with professionals from the partner venue.
The day is typically structured in three parts: beginning with a tour of the venue, exploring the specific environment, alongside some experiential learning; First Story writers then lead a practical writing session, inspired by what the group has just experienced; to close the day, students will read and share their new work with the rest of the group.
We deliberately assign unfamiliar First Story writers to lead Connect events (rather than students’ Writer-in-Residence) so that participants experience different styles and approaches to creative writing. Students also get to meet young people from other schools in their region, in turn feeling part of a wider community of young writers.
Connect events are designed to inspire and facilitate young people’s creative practice, in an unfamiliar setting unrelated to the curriculum. They demonstrate that writing can be for pleasure and self-expression — and that it can happen anywhere. Writing in situ, inspired by the surrounding environment, art and objects, students experience the potential of literature and poetry in new and exciting contexts.
Our aim is to encourage young people to see their own work as part of a continuum of creative expression, while promoting a greater sense of connection to arts and culture. Connect events facilitate access to spaces that can sometimes feel privileged or otherwise ‘out of bounds’ to young people. We seek to encourage young people’s sense of entitlement to access and participate in culture and education.
You might not think Ancient Egypt and present-day south London would have much in common, but a visit to University College London gave students a reason to pause and think about this. Love, hope, fear, greed, violence, anger, laughter, dreams, ambition… The Ancient Egyptian artefacts held at the Petrie museum at UCL demonstrate all the strong emotions and motivations of human society throughout history. That realisation, that we humans have the same drives and behaviour across time and space, whether among the pyramids of the Egyptian desert or the streets of Lewisham today, is an important one, and is something students embraced as a group for their anthology.ANTHONY CARTWRIGHT, WRITER-IN-RESIDENCE