Up-and-coming magazine distributes at hospitals across Cleveland


Nick Natko

After just over one year of publication, the magazine showcasing writing from children, Young Writers of Cleveland (YWC), has expanded its distribution from two locations and 600 copies to over 35 locations and 1,600 copies. The magazine’s newest recipients include pediatric centers in University Hospitals (UH) and the Cleveland Clinic.

With the objective of encouraging children to read pieces written by people their own age, beginning this April the Young Writers of Cleveland (YWC) magazine will be distributed to pediatric centers in University Hospitals (UH) and the Cleveland Clinic. Expanding YWC’s distribution was always on Case Western Reserve University third-year student and YWC editor-in-chief Natasha Oldford’s agenda, and just over a year later, that goal has finally been realized.

YWC’s inaugural issue was printed in January 2017, and since then, the magazine maintained a consistent format: pieces written by K-12 students for K-12 students. According to its mission statement, the goal of YWC is to enhance “the lives of the children in the Cleveland Area through motivating students to read and write outside of the classroom.”

The publication began with just two community partners, the Saturday Tutoring Program and Lake Erie Ink and distributed only 600 copies between both partners. One year later, the group has expanded to 35 sites around Cleveland, and the latest issue printed 1,600 copies.

“We could not be happier,” said Anmol Gupta, Director of Internal and External Affairs at YWC. “We are looking forward to receiving even more diverse submissions from children, [and] continuing to collaborate with Cleveland institutions.”

Last April, YWC officially became a University Media Board (UMB) organization, joining the Film Society, WRUW—the campus radio—and other organizations. The Observer is a member of UMB. According to Oldford, the publication’s place in the CWRU community is a natural and meaningful relationship.

“’Young writers have always been in the CWRU community,” Oldford said. “That is one of the reasons why we established [YWC]; to celebrate reading, writing and learning in Cleveland.”

With such a strong partnership foundation—CWRU, Saturday Tutoring Program and Lake Erie Ink—why did YWC focus on distributing at hospitals? One key reason was that pediatric clinics already offer reading and writing programs, so integrating the magazine with an existing program would further bolster the present literacy programs.

These partnerships have played a large part in the success and growth of YWC over the past year. A Boston-based literacy program, Reach Out and Read, for example, was key in securing a relationship with UH. Other partner organizations across Cleveland have helped with printing and distribution.
Distributing the magazine at UH was a major accomplishment for Oldford and the YWC board, but was also a step in a broader process.

“[We] are excited to continue to work with [UH] in the future,” Oldford said. “We will be taking feedback from all our sites, and we look forward to continuing improving our magazine to make sure kids are excited and pick-up is good.”

According to the CWRU Center on Urban Poverty and Community Development, a considerable 65 percent of the Cleveland population only has Level One or Two reading skills, and in East Cleveland, that rate grows to 78.9 percent.

“Those illiteracy figures can be changed,” Oldford said. “YWC’s goal is to connect these organizations to help motivate students to read and write.”

Their mission is a work in progress, and the task ahead of YWC is no small one. However, focused on growth and impact, the future of the magazine seems promising.

Oldford said the most rewarding part of her involvement with YWC is “working with the students.”

She continued, “When we distribute to the Saturday Tutoring Program, I get to meet some of the students who are published, and it is really special to see how excited they are about having something they wrote or drew in our magazine.”

In the opening letter to the an issue of the magazine, Anmol Gupta wrote, “Now with the third issue, Young Writers of Cleveland is beginning to fulfill its mission.”

As he, Oldford and their team track their progress and impact through UH, they look forward to further fulfilling their mission with the start of a new year.