LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - My Morning Jacket front man Jim James and friends are bringing the power of the pen to Louisville’s Portland neighborhood and inspiring young children.
Young Authors Greenhouse transformed part of the old Anchor building in Portland into a writers paradise.
It's a space for dreamers—part learning center and part funky store front. Your imagination runs wild.
Step through the portal and you can dive deep into the sea or soar high above the clouds.
But behind it’s wacky appearance, these programs are truly changing children’s lives.
“When I walked in here I was just like, ‘Wow,’ because it feels so creative, but it also just feels like a really safe, fun place that kids can come and get creative and learn and just feel safe just to be who they are,” James said.
When you look through the zany things for sale, you get a glimpse of what these kids can do -- all thanks to Young Authors Greenhouse.
“We really take young authors seriously and when we take them seriously they start to take themselves seriously and think of themselves as authors and writers,” Hannah Rose Neuhauser, one of the co-founders, said.
Only 25-percent of middle school aged students are writing at grade level, according to the organization.
"Louisville has a story to tell and our youth are a very important part of that story, so we need to have a space to amplify their voices,” Jasmine Wigginton, of Young Authors Greenhouse, said.
The group targets communities that don’t get a lot of resources with free workshops during and after school and one-on-one support, even publishing the students’ work.
“We realized that there wasn’t a designated space for just young writers," co-founder Jeanette Bahouth said. "We wanted to build a space where imagination could thrive.”
Ninety-two percent of the first group of students they served improved their writing skills drastically. They’ve already inspired 232 students, like Zen Kweli.
“Watching Zen read her thing," James said, "It’s just like -- wow that’s really cool!”
“The volunteers will help you out whenever you need help," Kweli said. "Ms. Rose is always here cheering you on with support.”
Kweli is already a proud published author at the age of 10.
“The book really changed my life and if I get any awards me and my mom are just going to be like, ‘Aahhh!’” Kweli said.
The center officially opens in September and they’ll be working with even more schools. So they’re going to need tons of volunteers for all the different programs.
See how you can get involved and donate at youngauthorsgreenhouse.org.