Michaely “Mike” Wieland

Daily Point of Light # 2335 Jan 15, 2003

Since 1987, Philadelphia Young Playwrights has provided quality literacy and arts education for the diverse communities in and around the city of Philadelphia. Their mission is to tap into the potential of youth and inspire learning through playwriting.

Young Playwrights?core program is one year long and takes place in the classroom during the school day. Young Playwrights employs professional teaching artists from the Philadelphia community and pairs them with classroom teachers to form Artistic Teams. Together these teams design and implement an intensive curriculum of playwriting in the classroom. Annually, Young Playwrights serves over fifty classrooms in a broad spectrum of city and suburban and public and private schools.

The yearlong program promotes academic skills, literacy, creativity, problem solving, self-esteem, theatre skills and motivation for students of varying backgrounds and academic abilities. Spending twenty-five hours in the classroom and devoting personal attention to each student, artists and teachers partner up to teach students how to tell their stories through playwriting.

Young Playwrights treats all students with respect as writers, and expects and receives high standards and professionalism from the students because they listen to what the students have to say. They transform the lives of young people by engaging them in their own education and retooling the system in which they learn.

At the end of the school year, students who choose to may submit their finished scripts to Young Playwrights?Annual Play Festival. This year, nearly 800 students submitted scripts, and each of those students will receive a personal response to their play from Young Playwright’s Literacy Committee. The committee selects winners from the elementary, middle and high school levels. Winning plays are given staged readings and professional productions with Philadelphia community partners, Barnes & Noble Booksellers, Temple University’s Department of Theater, InterAct Theatre Company and Philadelphia Theatre Company.

Young Playwrights?program is effective because it begins with one simple truth ?every student has something to say. For many of the students, that is a new way of thinking. They began to value their opinion and think more highly of themselves. They believe their ideas matter, and they become intent on getting them heard.

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