Pongo's Mission and Vision 


MISSION STATEMENT: The Pongo Teen Writing Project teaches and mentors personal poetry by youth who have suffered childhood traumas, such as abuse, neglect, and exposure to violence. We especially focus on young people who have a hard time expressing themselves. To accomplish our goals, we run and support trauma-informed writing programs inside juvenile detention centers, homeless shelters, psychiatric hospitals, and other sites. We provide youth with the opportunity to write about the worst experiences imaginable – often for the first time – but in a way that feels safe, offers relief, brings creative joy, leads to openness, and facilitates healing. Pongo’s core mission is to help our authors understand their difficult feelings, find their strong voices, and address their life challenges and best hopes. In addition, through publications and outreach, Pongo is an advocate for our authors and for the healing power of poetry.

VISION STATEMENT: The Pongo Teen Writing Project vision is to establish a strong and enduring Pongo organization that provides trauma-informed therapeutic poetry to distressed youth in the Seattle area and that, to even greater effect, propagates Pongo’s unique and uniquely successful methodology to help suffering people everywhere. Our goal is to create an organization that is a model of direct service, while it encourages, trains, supports, and provides a spiritual home to many successful Pongo-inspired therapeutic writing projects around the U.S. and in other countries. Pongo believes that youth in every city, in every detention center, homeless shelter, and psychiatric hospital, would benefit from a Pongo opportunity. This belief informs our vision. And beyond addressing that great need, but as an expression of this work, our intention is that Pongo will represent strength, compassion, creativity, deep feeling, and healing in the world.


  • Teens learn to see themselves as people who have had difficult experiences - gaining a perspective beyond the hurt, depression, and sense of responsibility they feel
  • Teens feel listened to
  • Teens feel proud of their work and of the possibility of publication
  • Teens enjoy the writing process even when they write about sad and traumatic events
  • Teens exercise insight and sensitivity
  • Teens understand, support, and are respectful of the mission to foster community understanding of teens
  • Teens learn and use language skills and editorial judgement



  • A welcoming and appreciative attitude toward teens' writing, choosing appropriate times and individuals for critique
  • A clear statement that teens are encouraged to write from the heart about who they are, and that a purpose of the writing project is to foster understanding within the community toward teens
  • A flexible approach that welcomes independent effort but that provides ideas, interviews, and collaborative input as necessary to facilitate the creative process
  • A willingness to take dictation often, converting spoken words to written content
  • An emphasis on honesty and a de-emphasis of spelling, grammar, censorship
  • A skilled effort to produce writing in every session
  • A sensitivity to the points at which teens need to hold back, a willingness to follow up with individuals about their feelings after they write
  • An ability to provide teens with nice copies of their work to keep, read, and share
  • A focus on teen' written work and not on counseling or easy answers to problems
  • The prospect of publication for teens
  • The opportunity for teens to read other teens' writing about personal experiences
  • A belief in the value of listening and compassion