STERLING, ILLINOIS (June 5, 2024) — Woodlawn Arts Academy will host Shine a Light on Mental Health Teen Writers Conference from 8:30AM-2:30PM, Saturday, August 3. Teenagers will learn how to effectively use multiple forms of creative writing to improve and manage mental health.

Ages eleven to eighteen are invited to participate. Tuition is $45 per person, and lunch is provided. Seating is limited. Register in person at Woodlawn Arts Academy, by calling 815-626-4278, or online at Financial assistance is available to those who qualify. To apply for financial assistance, download an application from the Academy’s website or pick one up at the main office.

During the conference, participants will attend creative-writing workshops on poetry, short stories, fantasy, non-fiction, and journalism, and how to use writing as a tool to manage mental health and well-being.

“Research shows that mental health is just as important as physical health, and teen mental health is on the decline. The Teen Writers Conference will give teens skills and knowledge to use creative-writing for a positive impact on their mental health and well-being,” said Anna Blevins, creator of the conference.

During the same timeframe, adults can attend the conference at no charge and receive their certificate in Youth Mental Health First Aid. They will be equipped with tools to help identify, understand, and respond to signs of mental health and substance-abuse challenges among children and adolescents. The adult portion of the conference is free of charge, but pre-registration is required in person at Woodlawn Arts Academy, by calling 815-626-4278, or online at

The Teen Writers Conference is a Girl Scout Gold Award project created by Blevins and presented by Woodlawn Arts Academy, in partnership with Girl Scouts of Northern Illinois and NAMI Sauk Area.

Woodlawn Arts Academy is an agency of United Way of Whiteside and Lee counties, and financial assistance is available to those who qualify. Details on the Academy’s programming and financial-assistance applications are available in the Academy office or on the website. The Academy’s programs are partially funded by grants from the Illinois Arts Council Agency and the Chicago Community Trust.

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