Jennayah has been coming to the Sydney Story Factory for some time now with Redfern Jarjum college, a school for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in the heart of Redfern. All of Jarjum’s students struggle with learning difficulties and find mainstream education very challenging, Jennayah included.
In Term 2, something clicked for Jennayah. During our seven weeks of workshops, she and her fellow Jarjum students created a motley crew of apartment block residents for the fictional and fantastical Hell Block. Jennayah came up with a fully-realised character, Captain America, and gave him a baby to look after, and a dog, and had him spend most of his time being a superhero to his family.
But it isn’t just Jennayah’s writing achievement that has impressed us. It’s her dedication. Each week she was the first at her desk writing, and was keen to update students who had missed a week as to where we were up to. She worked incredibly hard and was a shining role model for her peers.
Josh, Jennayah’s teacher, says that he’s watched Jennayah really switch on this term. He says that like all her classmates she’s got really great creative and imaginative ideas but struggles to get them down on paper.
Jennayah was supported this term by her volunteer writing tutor, Charlie, who worked with her one-on-one. Josh says Charlies’s willingness to put in the time and genuinely engage with Jennayah was the crucial factor. “She’s been open to working with Charlie, because he’s the right person. He’s been laid back, friendly and natural, not trying to force anything. It’s been a genuine relationship,” says Josh.
And the changes Josh has seen in Jennayah have gone back to the classroom as well. “She’s working more at having a go herself,” he says.
But what does Jennayah think about her experience of writing at the Sydney Story Factory? She was pretty scared by the idea of an interview but she summoned her courage and this is what she had to say:
Craig: Do you remember your first time here?
Jennayah: “It was fun. I was making up my own stories.”
Craig: Do you enjoy writing stories?
Jennayah: “Yeah. It’s fun and after that you put it in a book.”
Craig: What's the best thing?
Craig: Are you a good writer?
Craig: Have you gotten better at writing?
Craig: Has coming here made you different?
Jennayah: “More confident. Spelling, writing, reading.”
Craig: Favourite story?
Jennayah: “Captain America. I like Captain America.”
Craig: Anything else?
Jennayah: “It’s really fun.”
Read Jennayah's story about the awesome Captain America here.
Will you help us tell more stories like Jennayah's?
It's because of our wonderful Sydney Story Factory Inkwells that more and more young people just like her can attend our workshops. With a gift of $30 a month – less than a dollar a day – you too could sponsor a child's place so that every month one more marginalised young person can attend one of our innovative creative writing workshops.
Find out more about becoming a Sydney Story Factory Inkwell here.