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Richmond writing program to help youths find their voice, identity

Students in Grade 8 to 12 will be given an opportunity to create their own stories based on life experiences.
Writing Mentorship facilitators
Daniela Cohen (left) and Andreina Romero (right) are launching a new writing mentorship for youths in January.

A youth’s voice and identity shouldn’t be compromised when they immigrate to a new country, according to a Steveston secondary school alumnus.

Daniela Cohen, co-founder of Identity Pages, a new writing mentorship program, has created a 10-week program to offer a safe and comfortable space for students in Grade 8 to 12 to find “their identity” through creative writing.

Cohen and her partner Andreina Romero, who will also be facilitating the program, said students will be given the opportunity to create their own stories based on life experiences while developing confidence in their writing.

 “The unique aspect of the program is the thematic focus on the concept of identity in its multiple forms and how identity has impacted youths’ lives,” said Cohen.

“Especially in the current context, we feel that providing a space for youth to reflect on and express their ideas around this topic is critical.”

Throughout the 10 weeks, students will explore the concept of identity and what it means to them. Each youth will be writing their own story based on a particular aspect of identity with the facilitators guiding them through from first draft to fully published story.

As immigrants to Canada, both Cohen and Romeo can relate to the difficulty of having to adapt to a new home and the possibility of a new language while in their teens.

Romero told the Richmond News that students don’t have many opportunities to connect with those their age during COVID-19, and the program will offer a sense of community for them.

“When youths have an opportunity to create and express themselves in a story that they can call their own, there is a lot of power in that,” said Romero

She added that there will be a peer editing process between the students to help build that community and friendship as well.

Identity Pages’ Writing Mentorship Program will run from Feb. 18 to Apr. 22 every Thursday from 6 to 8 p.m. PST.

The program costs $150 per person, however, bursaries may be available in cases of financial need.

Applications for the program can be found on Identity Pages’ website.