Not far from a bustling street and directly across from a heavily populated neighborhood sits a community beautifully decorated with sculptures and murals by The Village of Arts and Humanities.

Deep within their North Philadelphia community, students of the Spells Writing Lab prepare for a daily routine of writing, reading, and other engaging activities.

“I like doing my homework here,” a 4th-grader named Haaziq said. “I like the snacks and Frankie, my old tutor.”

Haaziq attends John F. Hartranft School in North Philadelphia. In addition to doing his homework with the help of Spells’ volunteers, Haaziq also enjoys computer time and being able to work on his own creative stories.

The mission of Spells Writing Lab is to get students excited about writing, but not by drilling them with constant worksheet exercises. Spells has a broad range of topics for their students to incorporate to keep them engaged in the art of writing.

During the summer, Spells hosts a free six-week writing camp for ages 7-14. The program runs weekdays from July 9 to Aug. 17. Students can sign up for one week at a time or for the entire six-week session. Each week focuses on a different writing theme, such as graphic novels, songwriting, spy mysteries, cookbook writing, comedy writing, adventure stories, or screenwriting.

“I don’t think our kids are coming because they want to hone their writing skills. They come because it’s a fun place to be and they enjoy the topics,” said Christina Dubb, executive director of Spells Writing Lab.

“They come because they’re excited about a topic. We’re really creative because it’s not just ‘come and sit down and write.'”

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