In the wake of the school shootings in Newtown, local children's authors Dawn Aldrich and Camila Gabriel, producers of the local WPAA television program Penn’s Pals, are planning a writing workshop to bring to the schoolchildren there.
They are soliciting bound, non-spiral notebooks or what Gabriel terms “blank journals” for the effort.
“We are calling it ‘Words Heal,’” said Gabriel, who also holds a degree in
psychology and owns the tutoring service Knee-High Academy. “What we want to do is go into the district and teach the children how to use a journal to work through ‘it.’"
"I know there is so much therapy in writing.’”
Gabriel, who has written a number of books, said she brainstormed with Aldrich, who, most recently. authored a children's book that concerns separation anxiety, early last week. That’s when the pair came up with the idea.
“We’re going to make a difference,” Gabriel said.
Conceding that the project is still in the preliminary stages, she said she has already contacted the Office of the Superintendent in Newtown. While she and other authors would like to visit the district as early as February, she said the district advised her that spring might be a better time.
By then, she said, the children would have settled into a new routine that, for those who attended the Sandy Hook elementary school, now involves attending a school in Monroe.
“We want them to focus on the healing,” said Gabriel, who said the writers are seeking to plan their efforts with grief counselors or therapists whose focus is post-tramautic stress syndrome. “These are very positive efforts we are trying to bring to them.”
“Journals are what we really need right now,” she said. She added that the “Words Heal” project would like any bound notebooks they receive to come with an inspirational inscription from the giver.
To date, the project, which has a Facebook page, has received responses from as far as Virginia, according to Gabriel. There, one Girl Scout Troop has promised Girl Scout cookies in addition to the bound pages.
Gabriel noted that younger children may not know how to write well. Yet, she observed, they are the children who were most likely seriously affected by the event. As a result, she said that at present the writers plan to give the youngest students notebooks whose pages are only half lined. That way, those children can also express themselves in illustrations on the top half of the page.
“It felt like we needed to do this,” Gabriel said. “It felt like there was
something telling us, ‘You need to be the ones to do it.’”
In addition to bound notebooks, Gabriel said that the group is also soliciting blank journals in other forms, such as small diaries with keys and pens.
Contact information for donations is available on the project’s Facebook page.