GOOD

How Play is an Integral Part of Learning at 826LA

Writing is hard work. Ask any writer you know about it.

Writing is hard work. Ask any writer you know about it. The writers I know tell me that they sometimes need to force themselves to write for a few hours a day every day, and even then, it's hard to not get lost in your head. At 826LA, we trick students into believing that writing is incredibly fun. During one of our daily field trips to our space, students are told they must publish a book in a few hours by a mysterious and grumpy editor named Mr. Barnacle. They never see him, but they do hear his booming voice over a loudspeaker threatening to fire each student if their books do not meet his standards. Miraculously, all of our students succeed at the challenge and go home with their very own, unique storybook to show their friends and family.

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Connecting, Creating, and Learning With Your Neighbors

To be good neighbors means being accepting and genuine in our desire to connect with others. 826LA volunteers do that by giving their time to kids.


Our neighborhood is the heart of 826LA. Without our neighbors, we just wouldn't exist. It’s the moms and dads, local café workers, teachers, retired lawyers, part-time musicians, designers, college students, and many others who make our work—supporting students aged 6-18-years-old with their writing—possible. Folks may stop by one of our Time Travel Marts to pick up some Wooly Mammoth meat, but they leave knowing that there's a place in their community can adults and young people can connect, be creative, and learn from one another.

The Lozano family are our neighbors. They've been part of 826LA since we opened our center in Echo Park. Four years ago when their eldest daughter Dayanara first began coming for free tutoring and writing support, she was struggling to assimilate to a school system vastly different from the one she'd come from in Mexico. With help from our caring volunteers, Dayanara was able to turn her grades around and build her confidence with speaking and writing in English. She's now one of our most prolific young writers. Dayanara was recently named our 826LA Author of the Month, and her framed photo is the first thing every person sees as they come into 826LA.

Dayanara's sisters Ana and Yamilka, ages 6 and 7-years-old, have been following in their older sister’s footsteps. They come into 826LA most days to work with local volunteers on their homework and on their writing. Their mother, Emma Lozano, is an integral part of our organization, too. As president of our Parent Advisory Board, she leads students' parents in creating initiatives to support our programs and to encourage their children. When she picks up her daughters at 826LA, Emma stops to greet other parents from the neighborhood and finds ways to get them more involved with their kid's education.

The Lozano family exemplifies what great neighbors do: they participate and engage with their community. A few weeks ago, 826LA unveiled a new collection of student writing at a book release party. As always, the Lozano family was there. Dayanara and her sisters stood proudly in front of the microphone and read their stories. Volunteers from the neighborhood cheered them on from the audience. Emma brought homemade tamales and made sure each and every volunteer, student, and staff person had more than enough to eat.

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At 826, Tomorrow's Volunteers are Today's Students

It’s the task of organizations lto not only give much needed assistance to those who need it most, but also to inspire and grow tomorrow's volunteers.

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