Mastering the Essentials
The founders of Teen Scene aim to help teenagers improve their writing skills, business skills and confidence.
Writing is considered not only one of the most fundamental skills within the classroom, but also an essential part of life far beyond one’s days at school. Just ask Leland resident and Navy veteran Gerald Decker. A retired U.S. Senate staffer and educator, Decker believes that communicating effectively through paper, pen and keyboard greatly increases a student’s confidence in their professional careers years after formal education has ended.
In an effort to promote the writing skills of local youth, Decker created Teen Scene, a monthly literary publication written by and for local teenagers.
“When I was a staffer for the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I realized my writing skills were far inferior to the people I worked with,” Decker says. “I know my professional career has been affected by the fact that I didn’t pay attention enough to learn to write well in high school. I want to help this generation do a better job at writing than I did and help them avoid the pitfalls I dealt with because of a serious insecurity in my ability to write.”
Decker met fellow Kiwanis Club member and Army veteran Eric Mens several years ago, and the two men recognized that they had a mutual interest in helping promote the literary and creative talents of others in the community. As a former Department of Defense analyst, Mens shared Decker’s passion for writing and desire to create an outlet for aspiring writers in the area.
“I thought it would be a good idea to have some means of showcasing the writers, poets and journalists in our community who may not get the visibility or publicity they would otherwise if they were published authors,” Mens says.
Together, the pair created Cape Fear Voices, a free monthly publication focused on the creative works of adults, as well as Teen Scene, a free monthly newspaper created by and dedicated to teenagers in the Cape Fear region. In addition to promoting writing skills, Teen Scene also strives to develop the business skills of teenagers who take an active role in running the publication and managing its activities.
“Teen Scene writers will have to work together to develop a business plan first, then figure out fundraising and how are they’re going to pay for it,” Decker says. “Then they’ll implement that plan, put the paper together, make sure it’s interesting enough for people to want to read, and then distribute it in a way that readers actually have access to it. There’s a whole lot more to it than just writing.”
Teen Scene is looking to recruit dedicated teenagers willing to put in the time and effort to develop their skills. Funded by paid advertisements, donations and grants, the nonprofit organization plans to offer scholarships to those who contribute most to the success of Teen Scene. These scholarships can be used to help teens achieve their own collegiate goals, whether in journalism or in other areas. With public support, Decker hopes to promote the writing skills and creative talents of Cape Fear area teens, and by doing so help make a difference in their futures.
“Whatever profession you go in, there’s nothing that beats the confidence of being able to express yourself in writing,” Decker says.
Want to get involved?
For more information or to find out how to get involved in this teen-driven effort, call (910) 408-1934 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.