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Youth project wins major funding

WONDERFUL WORLD OF WORDS: One of the young participants in WAPPY

A PROJECT that supports young people to express themselves through the creative arts has won major funding to support a landmark book that it has published.

The Writing, Acting & Publishing Project for Youngsters (WAPPY) was successful in its Arts Council bid to fund its landmark publication, Wonderful World of WAPPY. 10 years of Inspirational Writing And Art By Over 100 Young Contributors.

The WAPPY project was founded in 2008 by award-winning performance artist and writer Grace Quansah (aka ‘Akuba’), with a small grant from Ealing Council and organisational support from the Positive Awareness charity.

Its aim is to develop the creative writing and illustration skills of young people from diverse backgrounds, and train them to become skilled performers of their creative work, which they will later have published, exhibited and/or produced in print or digitally.

It also provides author-interviewing and research experiences, training and volunteering opportunities for students, job-seekers and others.

The contributors of WAPPY’s landmark anthology have written passionately on various subjects including love, death, peace and war, belonging and family, friendships and building bridges, mythical creatures and real animals, London 2012, football, Dickens, Christmas, gender issues and African folklore.

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There is also a chapter devoted to international icons “who have changed our world”. These include Ealing publisher and civil rights activist Jessica Huntley, Bob Dylan, Bob Marley, former Ealing Pride in Our People Champion Willis Wilkie and Professor Benjamin Zephaniah.

The book is unique, not only because the work of 111 young writers and three illustrators from diverse multi-ethnic communities, but because several pioneer members from the rst workshop in 2008 and some from 2009, now adults, have also written about how WAPPY has changed their lives.

For example, Kieran Ross, now 21, who joined WAPPY in 2011 (then 14) writes: “After facing a lot of ups and downs in my life due to having cancer at the age of four years, my WAPPY family has given me the opportunity to express the way I write my poetry.”

Similarly, English literature undergraduate Lindsay Warner, who joined WAPPY in 2009 (then aged 10), said: “Having gone from a WAPPY member to a WAPPY volunteer, I have seen how the organisation has flourished and developed from those early sessions with a new generation of children. It has been a true privilege to be part of this journey.”

The Arts Council England funding also means that WAPPY can run a series of creative writing, performance and arts-focused workshops with Ealing Libraries, and tour London to promote the book.

Quansah said: “With all the negative stories we hear in the British media about the rise of youth crime and killings involving teenagers, WAPPY and the publication offer hope. Our members are from diverse backgrounds. Many have faced or continue to experience unhappy and challenging situations, such as facing life-threatening or changing illnesses, losing family members through terminal illness, sudden death or violence.

“What unites them are their compelling stories of inspiration, and how WAPPY has emboldened them to use writing and artwork as a tool to help work through those struggles (where applicable) and celebrate their respective strengths.”

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