By Pamela Marquis
Biz New Orleans
On April 29, Nia Gates, a teen intern with Big Class, a local youth writing program, traveled to Washington, D.C., for the 2017 People’s Climate March. Gates read her original poem, “Hold Your Seats, The Tree Speaks” to an audience of 200,000.
“Having the opportunity to travel to D.C. and share a part of my world with the rest was an absolutely amazing experience,” she said. “I would have to say my favorite part of the day was the chance to meet the fellow artists and speakers who also stepped onto the stage either before or after me. I am an 18-year-old girl from New Orleans and I was able to travel hundreds of miles to march and perform with people who see a future of liberation just like myself.”
Gates was afforded that opportunity, in part, because of her involvement with Big Class. The writing program began in 2010 at Lincoln Elementary School in Marrero when Doug Keller and Heather Muntzer facilitated a series of successful writing projects for 43 first-grade students. Word of these projects soon spread throughout New Orleans and other teachers began reaching out to Keller to do the same kind of work in their classrooms.
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