Hikone, Hikone, Hikone!

December 8, 2008 | 826 Blog Post

It’s cold out, am I right? Here’s a story that makes us warm: As many of you know, we have been close friends with all the fine people at CAN (Community Action Network) for some time now. Our first partnership happened two summers ago, when we taught writing workshops as part of the Hikone Community Center’s summer camp. Last summer, we taught writing workshops at (what has grown into) all four CAN community centers. Here’s a recap of all things 826michigan and CAN.

1. It started here.

About two and a half years ago, we met with Joan Doughty, the woman who runs CAN. After an invigorating conversation, and a summer’s worth of writing workshops, we came up with an idea that, a few months later, turned into our cutest-ever program. Once a week, we bring Colby, a trained service dog, to the center, and the students there read to her. We’ve told you about it a lot over the last few years, so we’ll just remind you with this picture:

Students don’t feel self-conscious reading to the dog.
AND, kids actually get excited about reading aloud!
(They are also adamant that Colby looks at the pictures.)

2. It continued here.

We then decided we wanted to spend more time at Hikone. Enter Rosie and Elyse, who taught a weekly writing workshop on Fridays for the girls there. After doing it for a year and a half, Rosie went to med school and Elyse moved. We looked around and found fabulous new volunteers Kat, Megan, and Justin, who were happy to step in. What’s the writing group up to now? Stacia is working on a story about a summer vacation to Antartica, and Kaykay wrote a very descriptive story about how big and smelly Dr. Blotch (our editor) is.

Stacia, in addition to being a cutie, is turning into quite a writer.

3. It branched off here.

Last spring, we took the girls in the Friday writing workshop on a bus ride, and had them write poems about it. Waiting for the bus looked like this:

Part of the group with Aaron, the director of Hikone, who joined us for the ride.

The poems the girls wrote were printed up on posters and displayed on seventy AATA buses all summer long. Remember when we said Stacia was turning into quite a writer? Check out her poem:

Look at yellow, follow these rules
Two red-faced people kissing on the sidewalk,
Orange babies crying,
Green grass, play fast
Blue shoes walk magically.
Birds-white. I wonder if they fly
On a bus
Where people play.

(This poem, incidentally, is featured in the 826michigan OMNIBUS, just released last week. More on that tomorrow.)

4. It added this.

This year, we wanted to include the boys, too. So we started a Thursday night Comic Book Club. Let by former Volunteer-of-the-Month Tyler, aided by Connor and Mike, the group discusses all things comics. Here’s what they’ve been up to, as supplied by Tyler:

  • We read comics. Sometimes we get so excited about what we read we have to tell everyone in earshot about what is happening in what we are reading. While this slows the reading process, we don’t see it as negative.
  • We make comics. We create our own characters with their own special super powers and their own origin stories and their own dangerous super villains that attempt to keep our heroes from maintaining successful relationships with their girlfriends.
  • We discuss comics. This is perhaps our favorite thing to do. We make tournament style brackets and discuss the merits of the Hulk’s ability to punch Wolverine hard enough that he couldn’t heal himself. Who is more powerful, the Human Torch or Iceman? Would anyone be able to stop Superman if he could just fly you into the vacuum of space? (Answer: Maybe the Silver Surfer.)
  • We also have lots of fans. While our group is for ages 8-12, even younger boys, teenage girls, and adult men are always looking for reasons to casually stroll through our discussions and try to get a word in edge wise. Despite what you may have heard, comic books are way cool.

  • Jermaine is one of the “cool” kids in the club.

    The Hikone Community Center is on break now until January. We just wanted to publicly say: Thanks for letting us work with you! We think you’re wonderful! Have a great holiday, and we’ll see you in a month!

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