The Back Story
e.E. Charlton-Trujillo is an award-winning novelist and filmmaker whose life and passion for the arts evolved after an impromptu encounter with a Texas teen in May 2013.
While chatting with a teacher after school in a tiny town not far from where Charlton-Trujillo grew up, she was given a creative writing sample by a student who was depressed and had thoughts of suicide. She asked to meet the boy. Though she was warned that he wouldn’t meet look up from the desk or engage with her, the opposite happened: “We talked about his writing, and I acknowledged what was there in his words, and in a few minutes he was not only looking at me, but smiling. Through our talk, something changed in him.” (Publishers Weekly, 2013)
This sparked an idea. What if she could empower more kids?
Charlton-Trujillo gave up her apartment in Ohio, put her things into storage and rented a Ford Focus and literally began driving across America in late June 2013. Supported by a small Kickstarter to film her experience, her own limited funds and the kindness of friends and strangers, she partnered with libraries, independent bookstores and community organizations to make herself accessible for at-risk youth who seldom have access to creative mentors. For several months, she did all of this in the hopes to empower young people to channel their fears, hopes, rage and dreams onto the page.
In The Spirit Of The Tour …
Charlton-Trujillo created Never Counted Out, so the impact of her work could continue. She saw first hand that showing up has currency with kids on the fringe and believes with a wider network of artists donating just one hour a year, lives can be changed!
One of the most common questions she was asked on the tour was, “How did you find the at-risk youth?”
Using her tour as a model, Never Counted Out pairs artists with at-risk youth in their community or a community they travel to, and takes the pressure off the artist to find the programs. Knowing first hand the empowering impact of artist workshopping with youth on the fringe, Charlton-Trujillo encourages workshops that are interactive and inspiring. It gives them hope and enables them to be seen and heard and most importantly be counted!
Another facet to Never Counted Out is developing an online magazine and publication of a rotating themed anthology If Someone Only Knew. This enables at-risk youth to showcase their writing and art. Showcasing their voice and talent, gives them a sense of recognition, self-worth and accomplishment.