Story Factory creative writing program expands and opens Parramatta hub
By Kathleen Calderwood
Saturday 20 October 2018
A creative writing program that has been running in Sydney for six years is opening a new hub in Parramatta to better cater for the children of western Sydney.
Story Factory started in Redfern in 2012, and since then 16,000 students have participated in the program.
The program has been to schools around western Sydney, but organisers thought it was time to have a permanent home for those students to visit.
"Western Sydney is home to people from over 100 countries who speak over 170 languages. It's also home to the largest single Indigenous community ... in New South Wales," Story Factory co-founder Cath Keenan said.
"We really wanted to come here to work with these young people because they have generally lower results in reading and writing tests than they do in other parts of Sydney."
Storyteller-in-chief Bilal Hafda leads the workshops and when the ABC visited, Grade 4 and 5 students from Mount Pritchard East Public School were learning how to write poetry.
The workshops are assisted by numerous volunteers who help the students individually.
Mount Pritchard East Public School teacher Dianne Vette-Welsh said her students' writing, creativity and even attendance had improved thanks to the program.
"They've got stories in their head, ideas to share and right from the beginning of the lesson everyone is ready and excited about the learning," she said.
"To come here and feel so special and so enthusiastic about writing, they take that away with them, back to our community, to our parents and definitely back to the [other] school students."
Student Leena Doan, 10, said Story Factory was fun and gave it "1,000 stars".
"It made me feel more confident and comfortable about what I'm saying to other people and I can share my ideas," she said.
Some participants in the program have gone on to share their stories widely.
Bindi Mutiara, 16, took part in the program at Redfern about three years ago. She walked away the author of a novella.
"I was able to write it down on paper and create these stories about unknown worlds and secrets of the inner west, and just my thoughts, which really meant a lot to me," she said.
"It's taught me how to properly write stories that really mean something and have an in-depth insight."