Hello fellow wordsmiths --
I am trying to start a writing program a program with poor women and children (in a halfway house -- formerly homeless women). The rules of the house are fairly strict, no TV, no leaving after 8 PM, etc. I visit with them fairly often and have found that they have very limited access to therapy, which many of them desperately need, and limited access to anything to occupy them in a creative way. Their days are spent training for work/looking for work, and caring for their children. Several of them have the most amazing stories, of grief and of triumph, and have expressed interest in chronicling their life stories or even just doing some writing exercises as an outlet.
It's all brand-new as far the planning goes. Many of them have little formal education and none of them have any history of writing as a creative endeavor.
The families stay at the home for 3 months, generally, and so I am trying to develop some kind of program that will give them some basic practice in writing in different genres, something that will allow them to use the written word to let out pent up emotions, and I want them to have something tangible at the end of their stay -- a chapbook or writing notebook, anything.
I would love your suggestions... my own background is in poetry and nonfiction, though I've written some short-shorts as well.