Writing Program Promotes Creative Coping during Quarantine

Making the most of quarantine, junior Lucas Tucker has created a new volunteer program called Friendly Flash Fiction (FFF) that offers creative writing instruction to kids in grades 3 through 7.

Donations collected for the service are paid forward to the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) Coronavirus Response Fund. “None of us are in it for the money. We are high schoolers that love teaching kids and want to support our communities,” said Tucker.

The program has hosted 11 virtual instructional sessions thus far. Each lesson, around 30 minutes long, is structured as a 1-on-1 online call. The tutor 1st learns about the child, creates a custom prompt relevant to the child’s interests, and helps the child through the initial brainstorming process. The child then writes a short fictional story, and then the tutor provides feedback, looking for ways to develop the child’s creative voice.

Sophomore Angeni Lieben, president of the Poetry and Creative Writing Club, decided to join the organization as the Chief Operating Officer (COO) due to her previous experience with writing. “I know through the club that those who have a passion for writing never hesitate to share it with others, and that writing groups are some of the most supportive ones out there. I have also been able to refine my own writing and allow my creativity to develop in the club, which gives me a good base to be able to review and improve the kid’s work with them,” said Lieben.

The club centers around providing children with opportunities to write as a coping mechanism during the ongoing pandemic. “I have always used creative writing as an outlet for my emotions and imagination, so when it hit me that students across the country were stuck inside, I knew that kids in my community would be looking for ways to keep things exciting,” said Tucker.

“Right now is the perfect time to find creative outlets. Being stuck in the same environment and doing practically the same thing every day can take an emotional toll on us, leaving us feeling lethargic and unmotivated,” said Lieben. “But engaging in a creative outlet, especially one as broad as creative writing, can get your brain moving again, and release some of that anxious energy.”

Students can apply to become tutors and earn volunteer hours. “Through their application, we accept tutors that have the most experience working with children, and we walk all tutors through a step by step guide on how to conduct each lesson,” explained Tucker.

Junior Robby Nykodymn discovered the organization through an email notice from English teacher Jake Donohoe. “I decided to become a tutor because I love working with kids and it’s a chance to work on creative writing, a style of writing that we’ve had much less opportunity now to do as high school students,” said Nykodym.

Tucker encourages other teens to find ways to productively help their own community during quarantine. “As a high school student, I know that my peers have a lot of time on their hands, and we should be working to support our community in every way possible. If you are a high schooler, send in an application to FFF! With each new volunteer, our communities become better equipped to fight the novel Coronavirus, both morally and logistically speaking, “ said Tucker.