Since 2012, Ivy Wong has channeled her creative energy into giving kids a valuable outlet for their bountiful ideas. The Ripple Foundation offers a creative writing contest, where students from grades four to eight can publish their work and donate money to a charity of their choice. Ivy also offers programs for young writers to continue to refine their storytelling skills through the creative writing workshop and a blog for high school students.
The wild imagination of elementary school students is bold enough to persevere through the last year of online learning. With the valuable tools and expertise that Ivy provides, the kids she works with become more confident and diligent to take on future endeavors. OnSide Media spoke to the brilliantly unique Ivy to learn about her own artistic background, the fundamentals of adequate story writing, and why creativity is the skill of the future.
What is your background in creative writing? Why did you decide on providing creative writing services for children?
Ivy Wong: The way I see it is, I like to split up the words “creative” and “writing”. I have a fine arts degree from York University, and I’ve held various titles such as creative director and designer. I’ve always been in the creative industry, and it is a big part of my life. It’s about building something from nothing. When I first began to build an initiative to give back, I knew I wanted to focus on creativity but didn’t know how I wanted to do it. I own two companies, Splash Interactive, and Ripple Digital Publishing. I wanted to create a way to apply my skills to help children.
Back in 2012, I started holding contests. I chose to create writing as a medium because I did not want to exclude people who could not express themselves through visual arts or music. Writing is a fundamental skill that everyone needs to communicate. After launching the writing contest, I realized that kids could really use some helping hands with honing their writing skills. So, that is when I developed the workshops.
The Ripple Foundation has three programs: The writing contest (Grads 4-8) , the writing workshops, and the writing blog (grade 8-12). We created the blog for students to continue their writing journey. Nowadays, when we are not holding the contest, we are working with a lot of high school students. The blog is a major writing process piece because it is not an essay or a newspaper where I ask them to cover something specific. It is a blog dedicated to their own point of view and personal experience. It is peer-reviewed. When students read about experiences from other students, it resonates with them and inspires them to express themselves.
In your experience, how did the children handle being published authors at such a young age?
IW: They loved it! I talk to every single one of them, as well as their parents. One of the major benefits the students noticed is that it really boosted their confidence. Most of the students that I’ve met that like to write tend to be more of the shy, quiet type. When they win, they are encouraged to try other things afterward. It really gives them the motivation they need. The parents also noticed this positive change in their kids.
The student who wins receives a big cheque to donate to a charity of their choice, which gets them excited. The winners also get to be on the judging panel for the following year.
Before the lockdown, we would present the giant cheques and the students would announce their charity of choice. Last year, due to the lockdown, we could not do anything in person, so we did everything via Zoom. We had the two winning students representing their charity of choice in a Zoom call. It is really endearing the types of questions the students ask the representatives of the organizations.
Tell me more about the workshops. What are some of the fundamentals that you work on with participants?
IW: The workshops are focused on storytelling and writing and came about 3 years after the contest began. There are 5 sections in the series. The first workshop is called “Brainstorm Bananza”. Basically, to brainstorm ideas and how to get started in terms of story writing.
The second workshop is called “Mixed Bag Mayhem”, which is about developing the different types of characters. It also demonstrates how a character does not have to be human. It can be an object, place, really anything. The third series is “Plotline Play by Play”. So, it’s dedicated to plotting development, build-up to the climax, and resolution. Then we have something called “Details, Details”, where we focus on the importance of the details of the story to make it more interesting.
The final series is “Stay on Track”. Surprisingly, it’s very common amongst the younger students. Kids have so many ideas, and they just want to write. So, staying on track is about committing to the same story and being continuous for the reader to follow without mixing up different ideas. These workshops came about from the problem areas we were seeing in the story writing from the contest.
In your own words, why is it important to foster a passion for writing amongst the next generation?
IW: I believe that creativity is the skill of the future, and literacy is necessary for success. Creativity fosters mental growth by pushing the kids to think outside the box, problem-solve, and come up with new ideas. Really, fostering creativity has so many layers. All the innovative ideas that we have originally come from someone’s imagination and dreams. It does not matter where creativity will lead them. Every single industry requires creativity on some level because that is a part of human evolution.
For More information kindly visit: www.ripplefoundation.ca