In times of disruption and distress, children and their families need a safe place to envision a future. Through the medium of story, storytellers create situations for this critical work of mind and spirit, providing a tech-free experience of person-to-person communications. Storytellers give the gift of story.
Human minds are hardwired to think and perceive through stories. As storyteller and researcher Kendall Haven writes: “Results from a dozen prominent cognitive scientists and developmental psychologists have confirmed that human minds do rely on stories and on story architecture as the primary roadmap for understanding, making sense of, remembering and planning our lives.”
Story builds a haven to tolerate the chaos and insecurity of the moment. Storytellers are “the load-bearing wall” in that place, says nationally recognized matriarch of traditional story Elizabeth Ellis. Listening to a story brings each of us into a different place through the imagination at work. As individuals, we hear in the story the messages we need. But we also listen as part of a community — we build the safe haven together.
Storytelling with Youth Groups
Storytelling Arts works with teens in community organizations such as the YMCA, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, and Catholic Charities to use storytelling as a tool of empowerment. When teens hear folktales and myths, they find in them the stories of their own lives, stories which enable them to recognize things about themselves and their environment that they may have never noticed. Through that exercise of discovery teens learn to describe and understand the world around them, and how to talk about things they may have never shared before. Using the art of oral storytelling to engage teens in discussions about myth and history develops active listening and creative problem-solving skills. It also gives structure to the voice of teens, as individuals and as members of a peer community.