By Eric Thai, Political Science '20
The University Honors Program brings opportunities for lifelong learning not just in the classrooms, but in its third and fourth-year requirements.
Paige Morgan, Pharmaceutical Chemistry '19, used her passion for writing and graphics to develop a nonprofit to create books for hospitalized children and foster youth. During her third year with UHP the flexible program curriculum allowed her to continue and deepen her work with Fiction for Kids. Now in her fourth and final year with UHP, Morgan has expanded upon her original mission to create and implement a course designed to teach students how to write children's stories.
Since 2015, Morgan has been co-founder and manager for Fiction for Kids, a non-profit organization that connects writers and illustrators to create original, inspiring stories for children in pediatric hospitals, foster homes, and elementary schools. Morgan was able to apply her work with Fiction for Kids to fulfill the University Honors Program’s community service and project activity requirements, allowing her to continue developing her passion for Fiction for Kids as her main extra-curricular activity while participating in Honors.
Four years ago, Paige and her best friend, Alex Wong, decided to develop their passion for writing and illustrating into service. From sharing with families and friends, to sharing with children in hospitals, Paige and Alex, while thousands of miles apart at different universities, communicated and developed a team of over 30 student writers and artists. Occasionally, Paige would write stories while co-managing the team via e-communications.
The Fiction for Kids team started with volunteers from Paige’s high school; eventually, stories of the non-profit organization attracted volunteers from all over the United States. While their talents and point-of-views diversified, their audience expanded from pediatric patients to foster home children and most recently, elementary students.
To date, Fiction for Kids has developed a library of 16 stories ranging from pre-school to high school reading level. Morgan also reports that Fiction for Kids has donated more than 320 storybooks to hospitals, foster homes, charities, and elementary school, with their largest donation of 123 story books and 123 stuffed animals to the Ronald McDonald House in Palo Alto, California, in November 2018.
Now in her fourth and final year at UC Davis, Morgan has decided to extend her reach from story writing to promoting writing education. To uphold this Fiction for Kids’ goal, she wondered if it would be possible to create a course for her fourth year UHP Signature Work requirement that would “encompass teaching students how to write children's books with positive messages.”
To do this she teamed up with fellow UHP student Riya Bansal, Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior '19, for her experience working in underserved communities. The two set out to develop a seminar course during Fall Quarter 2018 to be taught the following quarter. Together with their faculty mentor for the seminar, Dr. Marina Crowder of Molecular and Cellular Biology, they developed a First-Year Seminar syllabus, lecture materials, and course assignments with the goal of exposing students to the intersection between writing and healthcare by exploring how positive messages impact the growth of children in underserved communities.
By the beginning of Winter Quarter their seminar Writing for Wellness: Creating Children's Books to Support Pediatric Patients in Underserved Communities had reached its enrollment maximum of 19 students. Morgan has stated that thus far co-teaching the seminar has been a great experience, and that she hopes to give students a way to create a book. As a STEM major, Fiction for Kids provided Morgan an outlet for creativity, and she hopes the class will “give students a way to write stories.” From outlines to final manuscript, she hopes to empower students to create a book they are proud of, knowing that their work will be donated to children in need.
After earning her undergraduate degree in spring 2019, Morgan hopes to attend Pharmacy School.
Fiction for Kids is always interested in new volunteer writers, illustrators, editors, translators, graphic designers, and more! To learn more about applying, any interested candidate can visit www.fictionforkids.org.