Young Authors for Kindness (YAK) Festival

Calling All YAKs!

Noa Baum holds a copy of her book /How the birds became friends/

The 2023 YAK Festival, organized by FGCU’s Roots of Compassion and Kindness (ROCK) Center, celebrated young authors (third-eighth grade) who compose stories about kindness and compassion by writing, performing, singing, painting, and engaging in play and games. With their families, these YAKs were invited to come play story-tag on campus, celebrate family stories of kindness, share ideas, do story-making activities, and enjoy performances, including an appearance by internationally acclaimed storyteller, educator, and author Noa Baum who shared her latest book How the Birds Became Friends. Noa's past performances and presentations include The Kennedy Center, The Smithsonian, and The National Storytelling Festival. 

Check out photos of the event here.

Saturday, February 11, 9am-12pm

Get started today! Young authors can watch short videos featuring story mentors who are experts in their craft, learning about why they love telling stories using poetry, song, performance, or the written word. Then, it’s time for kids to create their own stories!

Name Department
Dr. Dan Bacalzo shares his love of theater, playwriting, and performance

Dr. Dan Bacalzo on playwriting, performance, and how theater brings a community together (spot the Shakespeare!)

Video One: Finding your inspiration

Video Two: Starting to create a play

Ms. F.E. shares her favorite things about the writing process

Why Ms. F.E. loves telling stories for children and using her imagination (look for the frog!)

Traveling anywhere with your imagination

Using your story tools  

How can kindness grow in a story? 

Jesse Milner's students discuss why they like writing poetry

Why Jesse Millner's FGCU students love expressing themselves through poetry (stay for the snaps!)

Our YAKs composed stories featuring kindness and compassion, and had the chance to share their stories at the festival, march in a Young Authors Parade, play story games with FGCU students and faculty, and visit interactive stations where they could share family stories, trek along a “fresh air story trail,” play at the “Choose your own adventure” story-making station, and puzzle over an inspiration station featuring objects that carry their stories with them.

The YAK Festival is our gift to kind kids in SWFL, so get your YAKs on track!

A bespectacled yak reading an open book

Questions? Contact 

Contact Us

We would love to start a conversation with you about the work we do at ROCK. Please email us at