A teen from La Ronge, Sask., has become the first youth with sight loss to participate in the Sage Hill – Teen Writing Experience program.
The program, which is held each summer throughout the province, offers youth the opportunity to develop their creative writing skills with a professional writer as instructor.
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Sixteen-year-old Karis Oscienny joined five youths across the province to take part in the writing course led by spoken-word poet Janelle Pewapsconias, from July 20-24 via Zoom.
“At the time I didn’t know that I was the first blind person to join the program so that was a cool thing,” Oscienny said.
“It was a good experience to gain, we did writing prompts throughout the week, we talked about diversity and stereotyping and how to end it.”
For her piece, Oscienny wrote and edited a short story titled “Decomposed”, about challenging stereotypes through the eyes of a character struggling to fit in.
She said the experience provided an opportunity to grow as a writer, connect to other youths and gain a new experience.
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“The parts about editing were my favorite since editing has been on my mind a lot and we talked about story structure, which will help me in plotting out my story going forward because that’s always been a struggle for me,” the aspiring writer said.
“Having writing experiences like this accessible provides new opportunities for youth who are blind or partially sighted to participate more fully in life, which in turn gives them an advantage in their future,” said Ashley Nemeth, the program lead for community engagement and advocacy with Canadian National Institute for the Blind.
Oscienny started writing at a very young age and has since developed a passion for story telling with her first book already in the works.
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“I wrote my first story when I was nine and then from there I kept thinking I want to write a book, but I had so many ideas that wouldn’t go anywhere and then eventually a couple of years ago I finally had this idea that I wanted to make into a book,” she said.
“I joined a little writing group in my town that sort of helped me hold myself accountable for my writing and I ended up completing the first draft of that finally last year.”
Sage Hill workshops are held in partnership with local libraries and are offered free of charge to participants.
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