Academy @ Shawnee students express personal pain through writing - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Academy @ Shawnee students express personal pain through writing

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) - "In my family the females suffer from depression, anxiety, health problems, and chemical. It goes on and on. When I was in 7th grade I came home to find my nanny dead on top of my new born sister,"said Callie Comer, a senior at the Academy @ Shawnee.

Comer is one of eight students from the Academy @ Shawnee that is putting their pain down on paper. It's pain that is difficult for many people to imagine. Comer goes further, "Things seems to stand still when you come across a dead person. Then a static roars around you and you start to panic."

It's stories like this one that no child should have to tell. "A blue bruise in the corner of the eye closest to the nose reminds me of someone who applied eye shadow in the wrong place. Who is this girl? What had happened to her," wrote Shawnee senior Nala Winemiller.

These stories are non-fiction. They are raw honesty and pulled from the students' real lives. "After 17 years in my life, only a week ago did my mother receive her first child support check from my dad," said senior David McConico. "Guess how much it was exactly: $13.50," he added.

In the spring of 2013, the eight students embarked on a project that had never been done in Louisville.

"You are surrounded by people who are really nice to you. They just sometimes have problems out in the streets yelling at night other than that's it's a really nice place to live in," said Shawnee senior Asia Frey.

The students wrote stories from their neighborhoods. The students held nothing back about what they see and what they endure. "I still remember that day when she just woke up crying and shaking and I did not know what to do. I was so scared," Frey said.

The students' works turned into the book "Our Shawnee." Every picture and every word is from their hands.

"In our community there are a lot of very important stories that go untold and so the Louisville Story Program partners with people in our community whose stories and voices we don't normally get to hear, and works with them very intensively over the course of time to help them write and publish," said Darcy Thompson, an author with the Louisville Story Program.

"Our Shawnee" marks the first project of the Louisville Story program.

Not all of the stories speak of strife, as some tell of opportunity."My chapter is about learning to fly an airplane at age 17 through the aviation program at Shawnee and being a private pilot at Shawnee," senior Cody Harral said.

The student writers did not receive school credit. They were each paid $500.

Though Comer said she's already earned more than just money. "It's provided a sort of therapy for me," she said.

You find a copy of the book at the following locations:

Carmichael's Bookstore
A Reader's Corner 
Why Louisville
Muhammad Ali Center retail shop
or order online at louisvillestoryprogram.org
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