Exposing Young Minds to Poetry and Prose

UM Graduate Student Awarded Grant to Launch Creative Writing Summer Camp for Kids
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Dana De Greff’s idea was one of over a thousand to be picked as a finalist for the 2016 Knight Arts Challenge, and her idea is an inspiring one: exposing kids to the art of creative writing in the city of Opa-Locka by starting a free, six-week summer camp program in its recreation center, known as The ARC.

Her idea paid off. De Greff, a Masters in Fine Arts candidate in fiction at the University of Miami, walked away a winner at a celebration ceremony hosted by the Knight Foundation this past fall. The foundation awarded her with a two-year, $45,000 matching grant to kick start her PageSlayers Summer Camp, and she is ecstatic to see her idea become a reality.

Dana De Greff accepts her Knight Arts Challenge grant with Matt 
Haggman, Miami Program Director for Community and National Initiatives 
with the Knight Foundation and Victoria Rogers, Vice President/Arts 
for the Knight Foundation. (Photo credit: Patrick Farell.)

“My idea was one of 44 that won, and I’m so excited to bring a creative writing camp to Opa-locka,” said De Greff. “I’m honored to receive this recognition. There were over 1,000 submissions overall, so to be chosen for the grant and have the opportunity to expose kids to something that is so important is a great accomplishment.”

The Knight Arts Challenge funded $8 million to a selection of grassroots ideas in four cities: Akron, Ohio; Detroit, Michigan; Miami, Florida and St. Paul, Minnesota.

PageSlayers, expected to begin summer of 2017, is exclusively for 4th and 5th-grade students in the Opa-Locka community and is designed to provide quality writing instruction outside the current Florida school curriculum through lessons taught by award-winning writers of color. The students will explore and flourish in the art of short stories, flash fiction, poetry, and more.

According to the official PageSlayers website, the program has three main goals: “to expose students to exceptional authors of color in South Florida; introduce students to writing styles outside of the standard elementary school curriculum; and provide a nurturing, supportive environment that encourages creative self-expression and positive experiences with reading and writing.”

Students who are accepted into the program will participate in one of three two-week sessions at The ARC, from 9 am to 1 pm. De Greff, the founder and director of PageSlayers, says each session will be taught by a full-time writing instructor specializing in various writing genres, along with an assistant instructor and various visiting writers and artists.

Born in Miami, De Greff teaches poetry to 4th graders in Liberty City through the Sunroom. Her work has appeared in Philadelphia Stories, Hawai’i Pacific Review, Gulf Stream Magazine, The Boston Review, The Miami Herald, and The New Tropic. She is also a recipient of the 2016 Fred Shaw Prize in Fiction and has been accepted or awarded scholarships from Tent: Creative Writing, the Tin House Summer Writers’ Workshop, and The Key West Literary Seminar.

To learn more about the PageSlayers Summer Camp, visit pageslayers.com

January 03, 2017