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San Clemente Journal

Local Foundation Launches Pilot Program Helping Children Write and Publish Stories

Feb 01, 2009 03:25PM ● Published by Don Kindred

by Gail McElroy

Logan White’s first book will be published soon. Although he is only 11-years-old, he has a lot to say about his life so far, and a local foundation is giving him (and other kids at the San Clemente Boys and Girls Club) a voice and a vehicle to tell his story. 

When Logan is finished writing his first story – which includes information about his family, favorite memories, heroes in his life, and more – it will be published in a hardbound book and preserved for his family to read and enjoy for years and generations to come. This young author’s story is one of a million the foundation hopes to tell in the coming years.

The Foundation, called voiceofageneration.org, is dedicated to telling a million stories and transforming millions of lives during the next several years. Co-Founders Michael Beteag and Virginia Dixon, both San Clemente residents, have been working diligently on forming the foundation’s board of directors, filing non-profit papers and recruiting staff since early last summer. The foundation’s mission is to launch a national heritage and literacy movement by helping people of all generations – at all ages – tell their stories, starting with a group of kids at the local Boys and Girls Club. 

“We are so excited to be chosen for the Foundation’s pilot program,” said Kent Campbell, Executive Director of the Boys and Girls Club of the South Coast Area. The foundation’s goals fit nicely with our goals. The kids who are participating are not only having a good time, but they are learning new skills with the computer and with reading, writing and research. It also builds their confidence knowing that their stories will be published.” 

The Foundation’s Program Director Randeleigh Harris, who has been working on-site with Boys and Girls Club staff to implement the pilot program, adds: “It is exciting to see the kids embrace the program. For them it is a fun way to spend time in the lab and to know they get their very own book at the end. What they may not yet realize is that the value of what they are learning will stay with them for life and that each one is becoming a heritage maker and creating a legacy for his or her family.”

Turning program participants into young authors and giving them a voice is what voiceofageneration.org is all about. The foundation has four main goals:
• Affirm the value of each individual within his or her sphere of influence by facilitating the publishing of their stories. 

• Provide a publishing platform of dialogue between generations through the exchange of inspirational ideas, human experience and story. 

• Launch a national campaign capturing our heritage, strengthening and building relationships within homes and communities, and between generations. 
• Advance literacy through the use of modern technology, sophisticated tools of graphics arts, design, and written communication.

Here’s how the program works. The foundation raises money to pay for publishing accounts, the books, and staff time to provide training. Foundation staff trains the staff at organizations such as the Boys and Girls Club and provides a curriculum and templates for working on the books. Once all books are complete, they will be submitted for publishing. A peer-reviewed contest will then be conducted to select the top stories. Local vendors will be asked to donate prizes and winners and their books will be featured in the press as well as posted on the Foundation’s web site. After the San Clemente pilot program is complete, the foundation plans to approach other Boys and Girls Clubs in Orange County. In addition, other organizations serving various age groups and representing people at different stages in their lives will also be approached, such as Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS), senior centers, military personnel, college students, father’s groups, etc.

Why stories? Because stories can transform lives. Stories encourage, teach, inspire, motivate and reinforce values. Its healing and transformative effects are enlightening and remarkably empowering. Stories create social and psychological connection, speaking directly and empathetically to our hearts and minds in ways that build common ground. It brings meaning and purpose to our individual and collective lives. b 

For more information on the voiceofageneration.org foundation, visit their website (voice ofageneration.org) or send an e-mail to moreinfo@voiceofageneration.org
For more information on the Boys and Girls Club of San Clemente, visit www.bgcsca.org.

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