Developed by Literature Wales over the past decade, the Young People’s Writing Squads aim to locate, nurture and encourage writing promise and talent in young people in Wales. In association with local authorities, and funded by Literature Wales, children who are gifted or show promise in creative writing are selected by their school (usually by the age of nine or ten) to be considered for the squads. If selected by advisors, the young people will be given the opportunity to attend workshops with some of Wales’ leading writers and teachers of writing.
The workshops, which are held three or four times a year, are taught by local, specialised authors including Carrie Fisher, Paul Henry, Francesca Kay and Horatio Clare. Each region, such as Cardiff, Pembrokeshire, Anglesey, and Camarthan, has its own squad with Welsh Language squads available.
Along with the writers, the young people look at writing in a variety of forms (including prose, poetry, scriptwriting and graphic novels) and from a variety of prompts, topics and inspiration, such as ‘Describing Place and Use of the Senses’ and writing in response to the art work in Y Lle Celf. The squads also take trips to such locations as the the Senedd (with Gillian Clarke, Robert Minhinnick and Ceri Wyn Jones) and Llancaiach Fawr Manor House.
The young participants are also given the opportunity to perform their work at locations such as the Hay Festival of Literature and the Arts, Radio Cymru and the National Eisteddfod. The squads also produce and publish their own anthologies as well as involving themselves with other ventures, such as the BBC Digital storytelling project.
Literature Wales offers funding to local authorities to set up new Young People’s Writing Squads. Teachers, librarians or education advisers wishing to establish new squads in their authority are particularly encouraged to get in touch with Literature Wales for advice and assistance.