The youth-written stories in YCteen give inspiration and information to teens in foster care while offering staff insight into those teens’ struggles.

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Teacher Lesson Return to "Writing Saved My Life"
Writing Saved My Life
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Writing Your Life


Freewrite and Discussion: 15 minutes
Ask everyone in the group to write down one or two ideas for a story about a time in their life when they changed, or learned something. Tell them the lesson or the change can be as big or as small as they like: for example, figuring out how to adapt in a new foster home, or a way to be close to a sibling who lives somewhere else, or how they overcame a bad habit or behavior.

Write the following prompts on the board and ask teens to answer these questions as they write their ideas:

—What is your story about?
—What happens in the beginning? (This should be before the change happens)
—What happens in the middle? (HOW did you change or learn something? What did you do, or not do? What was hard about it?)
—What happens at the end? (What did you learn, or how did you change?)

Read the Story: 10 minutes
As a group read, “Writing Saved My Life,” by Zaniyah Solis-Fearon aloud, taking turns. Let teens pass if they want.

Discussion: 15 minutes
Ask the group where Zaniyah chose to begin her story and why [15 years old, entering the residential facility, she was angry and didn’t know why].

Then ask them to identify a few points from Zaniyah’s story’s middle where she changes [starts writing and performing in her facility; discovers Represent and realizes someone cares what foster kids go through; starts writing for Represent and explores her own past and emotions; faces up to the fact the gang is bad for her; pushes through answering the hard questions so she can get paid and have a story she’s proud of].

Ask them, Where does Zaniyah end her story? [She eliminates violent people from her life; figures out a lot of her anger is at herself; is more honest and kinder to herself.]

Finally, ask, What do you think Zaniyah got out of writing the story? [Any of the above answers.]

Optional Sharing and Closing: 10 minutes
Invite the youth to share their story ideas if they like. Before closing, encourage them to keep working on their stories and next session, to report back anything they figured out while they wrote.
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[Other Teacher Resources]
(FCYU-2018-01-04b)

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