If you follow any of People’s Liberty social media accounts, you may have noticed that we like a good fieldtrip (if you don’t follow us, you should: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Newsletter). So, what’s with our love of Friday fieldtrips?
These visits expose our team to the great things others in this community are doing to help push our city forward. Cincinnati has made a lot of progress in the last decade, but we’re still dealing with a lot of very real issues, like poverty, infant mortality and childhood literacy, to name a few. But there’s progress on the horizon, thanks in part to a plethora of determined citizens who want to help make their city’s future brighter.
Fieldtrips introduce our team to those doing just this. Each week we aim to visit at least one inspiring, determined citizen, both to learn and share their story, as well as to build the foundation of a relationship we hope can grow over time. Being aware of as much of the great work going on in town as possible, will help us connect ideas, people and projects that may never have intersected otherwise.
We’ve visited a variety of interesting places lately: Cincinnati COOKS!, Enright Ridge Urban Eco-Village and the Mercantile Library most notably. Last week, our trip to WordPlay uncovered an especially interesting story. Here's a snippet of what we learned:
Libby Hunter, Co-Founder of WordPlay Cincy
A long-term resident of Northside, Libby Hunter has experienced, firsthand, the neighborhood’s transformation, growth and vibrancy. In the winter of 2011, Libby was visiting one of Northside’s local parks and witnessed some local high-school students carry-out a particularly aggressive act towards a wheelchair-bound citizen. Libby describes the experience as a game-changing moment. Her motherly instincts kicked in, and Libby soon found herself confronting the students directly. A heated argument quickly turned into a real conversation. It was apparent that these kids had nowhere else to be and nothing else to do; there were no after-school activities, hobbies or even homework assignments to keep them busy. Hunter saw a need in the community that she became determined to fill.
Libby immediately teamed up with friend, Elissa Yancey, as a partner and co-founder, sold her house a short while later, and signed a retail lease on a Hamilton Avenue storefront. WordPlay formed its first board of directors in January of 2012 and opened its doors in September of that same year. Word Play has since become a community hub that empowers students through literacy education and the wonders of creative expression. In just two short years, the project has grown to offer programming to 150+ Northside K-12 students a week, as well as provide them with healthy snacks and creative workshopping opportunities.
When asked what her favorite part of it all has been, Libby’s answer was not surprising considering the series of events that set the project into motion: “Anyone’s happy to help an adorable, five-year old learn to read; it’s not as easy to walk up to a 6’1” teenager and get him to trust you. I enjoy working with teens, because they’re sometimes forgotten, but are often the ones you can have the most impact on.”
To learn more about all of WordPlay’s programs, visit their website.