State of Mind
What matters to teenagers in New South Wales? What memories do they cherish, and what hopes do they harbour? What, in short, is their state of mind?
In 2016 we attempted to answer this question by running our biggest project to date. In our first state-wide project we travelled over 3,000 kms and had the pleasure of working with more than 800 high-school students from 35 schools across New South Wales.
From Bourke to Bonnyrigg, Mt Druitt to Maroubra, we visited all sorts of schools. Some were public, others private and independent. Some were religious, some sporting academies or performing arts focused. Some had strong Indigenous programs and others intensive English classes for refugees.
Each school was packed full of teenagers with creative and compelling tales to tell, of their first time surfing or their last time seeing their home country; of the trials of the playground or difficulties at home; of the comforts of family and the complexities of youth.
Every student wrote up a storm. They wrote vivid and colourful poems, stories and memoirs. Their writing took in universal topics and relatable emotions, but was always uniquely personal.
Altogether they proved one thing for sure - there is no such thing as an average teenage life.
CELEBRATING TEEN WRITING
To celebrate every student's writing - and share it with the world - we published their work in a number of ways.
We also published professionally designed compilations of the writing by every student in every school and delivered them back to the school with copies for every author and for the school library.
In October 2017, we published State of Mind, the book.
In this epic anthology we collected over 100 terrific stories, poems and memoirs that capture the broad range of teenage experience now. It's a wonderful exploration of the possibilities of writing from life.
Of course, the ONLY way to conclude a project like this was to launch State of Mind with proper pomp and ceremony.
We returned to regional centres around NSW to see the same schools again - they were amazed and so proud to see their home town, and their world, represented in print, especially knowing that their stories will be read, and read again by hundreds of other young people for years to come.
State of Mind was then officially launched at Powerhouse Youth Theatre in Fairfield in November 2017.
Students, teachers and principals from schools across Sydney and Western Sydney joined us for the celebrations, with readings from young authors who dazzled us with their creativity and talent. They all took home a copy of the book as a lasting record of their achievement.
State of Mind is set to become an essential resource in classrooms around New South Wales. A full swag of free teaching resources is available for all schools who took part in the project so that they can keep the creativity flowing.
The same resources are available to any school ordering 5 or more copies of State of Mind. Here's a taster and a way to get started immediately - a template for writing the 'I Am' poems that began every single State of Mind workshop.
Busting to get started on a State of Mind project in your own school or community? There are even more free activities available right here.
Thanks to all of the teachers and school staff who made us welcome in every school we visited, and to every student who wrote up a storm and made the whole project such a HUGE success!
Special thanks too to project manager Sheila Pham, who brought the whole project together, and to the 74 dedicated volunteer writing tutors who supported students in our workshops in Sydney and Western Sydney.
State of Mind was made possible thanks to the generous support of the NSW Government, through Create NSW, and St George Foundation.
Huge thanks too to our in-kind publication and print partners, Hachette, OPUS and Konica Minolta.