Bringing Fighting Words to Longford’s youth

Michelle Laffan, Mercy Ballymahon

Reporter:

Michelle Laffan, Mercy Ballymahon

Email:

newsroom@longfordleader.ie

Bringing Fighting Words to Longford’s youth

‘Fighting Words’ is an amazing cultural initiative currently on its way to Longford.

Fighting Words is a creative writing centre established by Roddy Doyle and Sean Love in 2009. They were inspired by 802 Valencia, a creative writing centre in San Francisco.

Fighting Words is an all-island initiative connected to a global network of creative writing centers in places such as Milan and London.

The initiative relies solely on volunteer writing tutors to deliver their programmes.

They’re constantly looking for new people to help out at their daily workshops with primary and secondary school classes, their evening and weekend programmes and summer camps.

Volunteers come from all walks of life, including third-Level students, retirees, professional and aspiring writers, teachers, journalists, visual artists, musicians and filmmakers - just to name a few.

There are approximately six hundred volunteers across Ireland doing their bit for Fighting Words currently.

The Longford branch of Fighting Words will be launched at this year’s Aisling Festival. They will run a workshop entitled Freedom to Write, which will be a collaboration between Aisling Children’s Arts Festival and Fighting Words.

One class from primary school and one class from secondary school is invited to participate in this workshop, facilitated by the Fighting Words creative writing programme.

The children are given the freedom to write their own stories using their imaginations and creative writing skills. At the end of the workshop, their story is printed and presented to the children.

The idea of bringing Fighting Words to Longford came from Loretto McGarry, chairperson of the Aisling Festival, and Mary Carleton Reynolds, Longford County Librarian.

The group hopes to educate and harness young people’s imaginations and show them that creative writing can be exciting and empowering.

“Our aim is to help children and young people, and adults who did not have this opportunity as children, to discover and harness the power of their own imaginations and creative writing skills,” the Fighting Words website explains.

“At its core, Fighting Words is also about something much broader and more inclusive. It is about using the creative practice of writing and storytelling to strengthen our children and teenagers – from a wide range of backgrounds – to be resilient, creative and successful shapers of their own lives.”

The team at Fighting Words believe it is important to integrate the whole community into their work, in order to ensure they make an impact.

Recently they worked on a project with retired Dockers and helped them to document their life on the docks.

They are currently working on a playwright project for teenagers that is connecting Fighting Words locations with local theatres in Kildare, Dublin, Mayo. Cork and Wicklow. The playwrights get to use the space and work with professional actors and directors.

The group believes that “creativity is a key way for people from all backgrounds to express all types of language”.

That is why promoting culture and language in Ireland is critical in order to make our country a more inclusive and tolerant place.