San Francisco

Group Builds Stronger Writers by Letting Kids' Imaginations Run Wild

A local organization lets children’s imaginations run wild in order to develop them into strong writers.

826DC wants young people to love writing instead of fearing it.

Once you get him going about one of his stories, his imagination takes over.

Rechab Telke, 8, loves dreaming up a story in his head and making it come to life.

“I just imagine things I see from books and then try and mix it up with a sentence,” he said.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re writing a policy brief or a compelling Yelp review, you need to know how to write to get to your goal,” Executive Director Zachary Clark said.

826dc is the local chapter of a national organization that started at 826 Valencia Street in San Francisco. The D.C. chapter is run out of the old Tivoli Theatre in Columbia Heights.

The moment kids walk through the door, they’re surrounded by magic in Tivoli’s Magic Supply Company — a fake storefront that puts students in the right space to create.

They attend writing workshops and after school tutoring.

“More than engage with creative writing, engage with expressing themselves creatively,” programs manager D’Real Graham said. “Even if it doesn’t make sense at first, I want students to take that risk.”

The books on the shelves were written by many of the students.

“When a young person walks by it and they see their book right next to an adult author, they know that my stories are as important as any of those other stories that could be told,” Clark said.

Rechab’s first story was published when he was just 6.

Everyone working with the kids are volunteers, and all the services 826dc provides for students are free.

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