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Youth Writers Rock launches at Pratt Library

12/30/2016, 6 a.m.
The Youth Writers Challenge, Inc. (YWC), a community-based organization, will launch The Youth Writers Rock, a free, six-month writing program ...
Patricia Johnson-Harris (right) with musicians and entertainers holding the check for funds raised from the Winter Jazz & Soul Experience held on December 11, 2016 at Magooby’s Joke House & Sound Stage in Timonium, Maryland to benefit the Youth Writer’s Rock program, a free, six-month writing program for students ages 10 to 17, beginning on Saturday, January 7, 2017 at Enoch Pratt Library’s Waverly Branch. Courtesy Photo

— The Youth Writers Challenge, Inc. (YWC), a community-based organization, will launch The Youth Writers Rock, a free, six-month writing program for students ages 10 -17, beginning on Saturday, January 7, 2017 at Enoch Pratt Library’s Waverly Branch.

Founded by Patricia Johnson-Harris, Youth Writer’s Rock is a new writing program, which focuses on challenging students to speak what is on their minds and to write about what is in their hearts. At the end of the program, a graduation ceremony will highlight the accomplishments of having stories published in two books.

“What I want them to get out of this program is, if they are going through anything, [they are] able to release that through writing, through something positive. The program also gives them another opportunity to learn something different, that they may or may not want to pursue,” Johnson-Harris said.

Johnson-Harris anticipates that The Youth Writers Rock program will have therapeutic value, give confidence to students, and provide encouragement for students to pursue goals that they have in life.

“At least they can say they know a little bit about writing, and they know illustration, they know editing, and they’ve written a book. And I think I want them to have something that they can carry with them for the rest of their lives. So once they publish the book, no matter where they go in life and what they do, they can always say, ‘I am an author.’”

The Youth Writers Rock Program will meet at Enoch Pratt Library’s Waverly Branch every Saturday through June 17, 2017. One high school and one middle school slot are still available.

To fund her commitment to creating a platform for young people to hone their skills as writers and to share their stories in a published work, Johnson-Harris and her husband, Roger Harris, hosted the Winter Jazz & Soul Experience, a fundraising event for the new writing program. Held on December 11, 2016 at Magooby’s Joke House & Sound Stage in Timonium, the event featured the Fahrenheit band and other musicians and vocalists from around the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia metropolitan area.

“I have witnessed Pat and Roger Harris’s commitment to the community, youth and various organizations throughout the years, and I am humbled every time I get the opportunity and privilege to be a part of such a positive, uplifting experience," said saxophonist Isaac Parham.

Johnson-Harris was able to achieve the organization’s goal to raise $2,500 with additional help from Baltimore-based Mano Swartz Furs. The company also donated mink ear-muffs for a raffle.

“There are so many nonprofit organizations in Maryland but the Youth Writers Rock program is a one-of-a-kind initiative, Harris said. “We are already planning and looking forward to next year's benefit concert."

Johnson-Harris leader is still seeking volunteers who could offer fundraising assistance and hands-on support on Saturdays when the program is held.

Parents of youth who are interested in writing, email: pjohnson@youthwriterschallenge.org for more information and registration. To learn more about the Youth Writers Rock Program, visit: www.youthwriterschallenge.org.