Abigail Willis, 8th grade student at Tomahawk Creek Middle School in Mosely, VA wrote as part of her public poetry project proposal:
“I don’t believe in changing one’s ways just because of society’s standards, but I do believe … talking in someone’s language [can] get your point across. That’s why, for a social change, we must make people want to read poetry—to draw them to it….”
Abigail wants to invite kids in her community to form a “game-changing group” to write and paint poetry and their stories on a wall in an area near downtown Richmond where there is a high negative mental health rate. Using mainly recycled and donated materials, they plan to create a mural, after getting approval from building owners and the HOA. By June, she hopes that there will be poems on the mural “ready to mend the hearts of those who read them.”
I just got this update from Abby, where she shares that she has learned a lot about planning, managing, and collaborating with others. Abby wrote in an email, "When I first said I wanted to do a poetry mural, I knew it wasn't going to be easy, but what I didn't know was that there would be so many obstacles. I've been set back and snubbed off countless times. ... My biggest problem I've had to face is being taken seriously because I'm young. However, I recently found out that I have the principal's, the Superintendent's, and the School Board's support. I'm extremely grateful that they saw how my voice and ideas are worth sharing. They understand that this project is important to the community and I'm very relieved by that."
Abby and the students she's working with have decided on a "moving" poetry display/wall instead of a fixed mural. It will travel around Chesterfield County Public Schools (CCPS) and local libraries through May and June. Abby adds, "Eventually, we will find a forever home for it."
Another highlight in Abby's experiences so far as a VA Young Poet in the Community is that she is being invited to a broadcasted CCPS School Board meeting to share her poem and project on April 12th.
On top of that, Abby and Jaiden Isaiah Brown (who is a VA Young Poet in the Community winner in the Elementary School category) were featured in the CCPS Catalog for their award.
One more from Abigail Willis: "It's been an amazing journey so far and I can't wait for you to see the finished product. When I won the YPIC award I had no idea it would open up this many possibilities. Thank you again for this opportunity,"