Focus on Service
A sister program of the summer Butler Creative Writing Camp, the Bridge Program offers creative writing programming to local youth in grades 3-12 during the academic year.
MFA students, along with the MFA administrator, make up the staff of the Bridge Program. They serve as “mentors” in our most popular program, a monthly writing club, leading students split into age groups in creative writing lessons, prompts, and activities. MFAs also serve as “teachers” in our specialty workshops, often centered on a specific genre or craft skill, like writing dialogue, folk tales, fan fiction, story structure, etc.
Check out current offerings and other info on the Bridge webpage.
In the past 10 years, medical professionals and clinicians have recognized the therapeutic value of creative writing. A discipline once practiced only in college classrooms with a singular goal of publication in top-flight literary journals or academic presses, creative writing is now recognized as a tool for healing, maintaining wellness, and expressing the buried memories of trauma.
The Butler MFA program which was founded eight years ago with community service as one of its founding principles, has recognized the potential for healing and maintaining wellness, and has taken Creative Writing for Wellness as part of its mission. The Butler MFA now prepares students to lead workshops in wellness among diverse communities. In the past two years, our MFA students have run writing classes with staff members at Eskenazi Hospital; with senior citizens at American Health Care Services; with troubled adolescents at Riley Children’s Hospital and Hope Academy, and soon with prison inmates. At this point, most of this work has been done on a strictly volunteer basis, but some pioneering MFA students have been paid to pilot and develop new partnerships.
The Butler MFA program is an institutional member of the National Association for Poetry Therapy. While our programs are not clinically therapeutic, we focus on coping skills, stress management, artistic engagement and enrichment, and community building. The Creative Writing for Wellness Initiative is directed by MFA faculty Hilene Flanzbaum.
Writing In The Schools is the Jefferson Award-winning partnership between the Butler MFA program and Indianapolis Public Schools that strives to foster the creativity of young writers through mentorship.
WITS is a service-learning program designed to facilitate mentorship opportunities at Broad Ripple Magnet School for the Arts and Humanities and Shortridge IBS School through the teaching of reading and creative writing. WITS seeks to reinforce how relationship building, positive reinforcement, and interconnectivity through language are vital strategies for helping to serve the needs of young learners.
The primary on-site mentoring curriculum at Broad Ripple is two-fold: an in-school literacy tutoring program and an after-school creative writing group. The on-site programming at Shortridge is related to the publication of a literary magazine of student work, Ripple Effect.
Butler MFAs are encouraged to enroll in EN455s, the service-learning course taught by our WITS director, which will put you right in the thick of the mentorship program. MFAs can also volunteer on-site. MFAs who take EN455s have the chance to serve as funded graduate assistants in the program.
Check out the WITS blog to see what’s going on at Broad Ripple and Shortridge.
Email Chris Speckman with any questions, firstname.lastname@example.org.