"The Origin Project" sparks creative writing history in SW Virginia
Some southwest Virginia students are now published authors.
It's all thanks to "The Origin Project," co-founded by Big Stone Gap author Adriana Trigiani and Nancy Bolmeier Fisher -- who is the program's executive director.
The Origin Project is a year-long creative writing project, which includes a series of assignments, workshops and guest speakers.
The program is offered to students in 4th through 12th grade.
The kids all wrote about life in Appalachia, from the history to coal mining and the great outdoors.
At the final event Tuesday, 20 students shared a poem, essay or short story by reading aloud to a packed auditorium at Mountain Empire Community College.
Governor Terry McAuliffe sent the students a video message and Senator Tim Kaine Skyped with the crowd.
Trigiani told News 5's Rebecca Pepin that it's inspiring to see all that these young people accomplish.
"Their creativity, to see that unleashed in them," said Trigiani. "It's something just so magnificent, and it never gets old, you're always surprised."
"And all the cultural things and all of the wonderful things about nature that are in Appalachia are things they need to be proud of. I can totally say that they feel differently about where they're growing up."
Executive director Nancy Bolmeier Fisher said this project is a great way to help the students feel pride in their culture.
"There are some stereotypes about this area," said Bolmeier Fisher. "Someone described it to me as carrying a backpack around. And we want them to feel like their backpack is full. And all the cultural things and all of the wonderful things about nature that are in Appalachia are things they need to be proud of. I can totally say that they feel differently about where they're growing up. So I can totally say that they feel differently about where they're growing up (because of this program)."
Fourth grade student Morgan Graham has gained confidence from The Origin Project.
"When I started writing my biography about my great grandmother, I started to think this is really complicated, but I started writing and I didn't know when to stop!" exclaimed Graham.
"They're connecting to words, to reading, to thought, to their intellect, really their soul," said Trigiani.
Donations to "The Origin Project" can be made by clicking here.