There are many ways to start a morning, a coffee, reading the paper, going for a run. But the best way I've found is to help children become authors for the first time. And every morning at 826NYC and the Brooklyn Superhero Supply Store, that's exactly what happens.
It starts when a class arrives in a store unlike any other--with gadgets, capes, masks and tins of any superpower you can imagine. Then we travel through a secret door and begin writing a story collaboratively from whatever comes out of their incredible imaginations. At the end, every child has an individual storybook with their own ending and their author photo on the back.
826NYC's field trips are free for New York City's Title One public schools, meaning that these schools serve students with fewer resources available to them. Allowing the students to shine and showing them that their ideas are valuable and their creativity is something special are the reasons I keep giving back, class after class, even after working with over 1500 students myself.
It doesn't matter if the story is about a flying bookshelf looking for a friend, or a talking chicken nugget solving a mystery or a giant spider trying to take over the universe, seeing their eyes light up as the first book they've written comes out of the binding machine is the best.
Through its field trips, After-School Tutoring & Writing, and other programs, 826NYC is building a community of volunteers that give their time to make sure all students have chance to flex their creative muscles and see the value of self-expression. This is so important because it takes a weight off the shoulders of teachers who already bear a huge burden in an increasingly tested and scrutinized field of education.
Review from #MyGivingStory
I started working at 826NYC as an intern and I am constantly impressed with the amount the staff and volunteers have invested into the work, whether we spend time making lesson plans and talking about teaching, talk to newcomers about superheroes in the Superhero Supply Store or working with students who regularly come in for after-school tutoring, the experience at 826NYC is always warm and welcoming. I fully support 826NYC's mission to free children's voices, creativity, and foster a passion for stories and learning.
I've watched the visiting classes leave each with the book they have written and illustrated during their morning at 826NYC. They are so proud of their accomplishment and beaming with confidence. The Brooklyn Super Hero Supply Store that helps support the project enchants everyone who visits. Where else can you get anti-gravity in a can.
Besides tutoring and helping to develop the creative sides of students from elementary school through high school, 826NYC provides Brooklyn Superhero Supplies Co. and its magic to the NYC borough community (and to people around the country via its website). For learning toys and costumes to journals with writings by known authors and students who participate in the programs, BSSCo. is both inspiring and fun. And I hope to see people there soon (I work there on Thursdays). While people seek work life balance, 826NYC provides intellectual fun balance (among other things).
Back in 2008 I began volunteering at 826NYC. As the child of a Montessori teacher and having worked in adult learning/corporate training for years, I have always volunteered with young people. And never in my life have I experienced so much talent, innovation, and encouragement with the 826NYC staff and witnessed so much excitement, confidence, and self-belief from the students. Whether it's tutoring in schools, writing workshops, or field trips, I have learned and continue to learn more from the leaders (Chris, Joan, Kate, Scott) than anyone with whom I've had the privilege of volunteering.