When I was living in Barcelona in 2008, I was eager to find a direct route into the healing/social services upon my return to Seattle (I’d had adventures in Spain, but had not found a way to effectively serve others there that felt meaningful). I began a short-lived feasibility study on how to use creative writing with distressed populations. It was short-lived because I found Pongo. I was honored to serve Pongo youth for over eight years, four as a volunteer mentor, two as a project leader, two as the Assistant Director and now as a member of the advisory board.
Pongo is the reason I returned to school for a Master’s degree in psychology and youth therapy and is a large part of the reason I was able to bring together my passion for human rights, healing and the written word.
Pongo Poetry (The Pongo Teen Writing Project) teaches and mentors personal poetry by distressed populations, especially those who have a hard time expressing themselves. To accomplish our goals, we run writing projects inside juvenile detention centers, homeless shelters, psychiatric hospitals, and other sites. The consistent theme in our authors’ poetry is childhood trauma, such as abuse, neglect, and exposure to violence. Our primary purpose is to help our authors understand their feelings, build self-esteem, and take better control of their lives.
In addition, through the Pongo web site, we provide therapeutic writing opportunities for English-speaking youth all over the world. We also train counselors and teachers in our unique teaching methods, with workshops and on our web site. At community festivals, speaking engagements, and media opportunities, we speak to the community about the emotional, familial, and social conditions that affect distressed people. Finally, to benefit our authors, professionals, and the community, Pongo publishes and shares poignant and insightful writing in books and online. We are advocates for the healing power of poetry in addressing trauma.
Dig Pongo here: www.pongoteenwriting.org