Hayden and Nicholas have been attending Sydney Story Factory for the last three terms, and each week the two brothers show up with something surprising.
It might be a mini lecture from Hayden about how bread was made in medieval times. It might be a new conspiracy theory about Trump from Nick. It might be a hilarious insistence that every turn of phrase will be taken literally, to the letter, to a bananas degree of commitment. A lot of the time it's with a new level of focus or enthusiasm for the work ahead of them.
Whatever it is, it's always done with a cheeky smile and a high five.
Hayden and Nick started off trying a workshop with just the two of them working with Craig, one of our Deputy Storytellers. Hayden said he felt shy at first, Nick wanted to know why he was even here.
But over the next two terms, which saw them join workshops with larger groups of students, they found the Sydney Story Factory environment to be conducive to their writing.
Hayden liked that it was quiet enough for him to concentrate. Nick loved that people weren't judgmental of his writing, and that he got to meet people with a similar sense of humour.
Nick and Hayden's father, Andrew, describes them both as playful, outgoing, and talkative.
Hayden is autistic, and Nick has received learning support in the classroom. They both love Minecraft, with Nick loving the act of building worlds and Hayden enjoying the storytelling he can do in the program. They also have a real passion for World War II documentaries.
Andrew has found their time at Story Factory to be an excellent influence for them both, where they can have access to resources that allow them to succeed.
Neither of the boys is assigned a lot of homework, and the family has found it hard to find ways to get the kids writing at home, to practice all of these skills. Sydney Story Factory has provided them with a safe space to this, and the impetus and encouragement to work on their writing in their own time.
Both Nick and Hayden are excited to keep coming back to Sydney Story Factory.
Nick loves that the space is full of books, and that he's allowed to put as many cheesy puns in his work as he can. Hayden thinks it has made him more confident about reading his work in front of others, and that he loves the fact that there's less pressure to finish their stories.
Which is maybe fair enough - if you'd read the boys' last two stories, one about a tri-city civil war over a viral video pop star beaver and another about a century traversing knight fighting his way to the present time, you'd hope they had as much time as they needed.
Here's just a taster from the boys' most recent stories:
The newly forged excalibur had power like no other sword and the excalibur can only be forged with the five sorts of elements, rartwalr, water, lighting, fire and once you get the five elements, you have to bring the five elements to heaven and put them into the elemental forge. You get the frame of the excalibur and find the mytrill anvil, the mytrill hammer and bang the hammer on the frame three times and you get the excalibur. The King was impressed by Arthur’s bravery and courage. The King went on eternal leave and promoted Arthur to become King eighteen years later.
When all the beavers are together they turn brown; they turn into a god beaver and fly away. Bald man puts them all together into the Godbeaver with magical powers. (Really with tape.) The Godbeaver was causing chaos so the bald man had to put them back into three beavers. (He took all the tape away.) He puts them back into the Beaver wild. What happens? Magic happens, chess happens.