Almost 7 years ago, I had my first unit on poetry. We covered limericks, haikus, acrostics and more.
5 years ago, I knew I wanted to publish a book one day. I had no clue what it would be about, or when I would do it, but that goal remained in the back of my mind.
4 years ago, I started my first WordPress blog for a school project; even after the project had finished, I used the platform to share random pieces and brief poems I had written.
Since then, I had often forgotten about wanting to publish a book. I worried that my writing would not measure up; thought it was too large of a task to do on my own at such an age; felt that people would simply be uninterested.
My friends, family and teachers were quick to disagree with the first point, and they kept telling me they believed I could do it. As for the last point… most of us can agree that poetry isn’t always the most compelling form of entertainment, especially when you cannot quite understand half of it.
Fast forward to the past few months, when I had some extra time on my hands – the only good result of a knee injury – and decided to recruit some of my wonderful friends to help me take many, many pictures over the course of the summer (a laptop-crashing amount of pictures).
Many edits, pictures, and hours later…
Here I am introducing “Notes”, a collection of my poetry and photography that has now been 5 years in the making. Each poem in the collection is accompanied by an image, discussing subjects such as growing up and creativity. For those of you who are inspired by the inspiration, know that this began as only that: notes.
Brief scribbles in my many journals, late-night writing on my notes app under the covers (where the best ideas snuck up on me), and lists upon lists of all of the images I was just itching to take.
As I was working on this collection, I realized that I only was able to do all of this, write these “notes”, because I had the opportunities, environment, and literacy skills to do so.
This prompted me to go looking for an organization that I could potentially help support with my project, to provide other students with the same opportunities and skills that led me to put together this book.
This search brought me to the World Literacy Foundation (WLF), and their Youth Ambassador program back in February. As a Youth Ambassador for the WLF I learned about the impacts illiteracy has on our global society, and how enhancing literacy levels is essential to the world’s economic development, and to the well-being of communities worldwide.
These statistics (and definition) below are just a few of the ones I learned since the start of the program, but some of the most eye-opening.
The WLF is working towards reducing some of those numbers, with ongoing projects in Africa, South America, North America, the United Kingdom, and Australia. These initiatives involve funding solar-powered technology for reading and digital learning, offering other teaching resources to schools in need, and advocating for literacy around the world.
There is one initiative that I would like to highlight in particular, and that is SunBooks.
SunBooks strives to merge technology with education, making both more accessible to young minds in remote locations. As a registered not-for-profit organization under the WLF, they have developed an innovative solar-powered educational tool in the form of a tablet. It allows digital learning to reach children in remote areas regardless of their location, acting as an accessible, high-quality, and free educational tool. They are currently working in classrooms in Uganda to bring “Sun Books” to children in need to support their learning, taking measures to incorporate local cultural content, stories, and language as well.
All proceeds from “Notes” will be going towards the WLF, and their SunBooks initiative in Uganda. By helping to give those children tools and opportunities to learn (ones that I have been so lucky to have), we can keep working towards literacy for all.
Literacy for all would create a future that is more talented, healthier, and happier, a future I hope we all will strive to achieve.
“Notes” will be made available for preorder on September 30th through sarahhesp.com, copies will be available in-store at local Kingston bookstores and online by mid-October. The collection will cost $15 CAD, with all profit going to the World Literacy Foundation in support of their SunBooks initiative.