Celebration of Authors, Books and Community (CABC) is a joint initiative of the Sunshine Coast Festival of the Written Arts and School District 46-Sunshine Coast that brings writers into Sunshine Coast classrooms to talk about books and writing and encourage students to express themselves through both the written and spoken word.
Since its inception in 2007, CABC has organized over 130 school visits to Sunshine Coast schools with 90 Canadian writers who have encouraged, supported and inspired 16,000 students (cumulative attendance) as writers, readers and storytellers.
Stories build community. Here’s a wonderful story to illustrate just that. In February 2019, author Robin Stevenson visited eight elementary and secondary schools to talk about inclusion, the history of Pride, and LGBTQ+ rights. Students at Gibsons Elementary School were inspired to request that a rainbow crosswalk be painted at the entrance to their school to demonstrate their school is an inclusive and welcoming place for all. With the support of their classroom teacher, they met with the Principal, the Superintendent, and Manager of Facilities. They attended a staff meeting, met with the Parent Advisory Council, and visited every class to explain what they were doing and why, and raised the funds to paint the crosswalk. That rainbow crosswalk was in place, just two months after Robin Stevenson’s visit. Well done, Gibsons Elementary!
Over the years, elementary and secondary school students have had the opportunity to explore many issues including the legacy of residential schools, stories about immigration and refugees’ search for safety and security, the natural world, how we treat each other, plant medicine and Elder knowledge, climate change, and the power of story. Many authors talk to the students about the practice of writing. The most oft repeated advice: 1. Write every day, even if it’s only a paragraph. 2. Read, read, read.
Sunshine Coast students are listening. Almost 900 pieces of writing were submitted in March 2022 for the 12th edition of Coastal Voices, an adjudicated anthology of writing by Sunshine Coast students, which was published in June.
For perspectives from a teacher, a student, and a visiting author on the impact of CABC, please refer to these statements from Bev Craig, Sarah Mitchell and Chieri Uegaki.
Edmund Arceo of ZOOM Magazine has donated his time and expertise to design Coastal Voices since its inception. Thank you, Edmund!