I was recently inspired by Dr Catherine Keenan, named Australian Local Hero of the Year last week, whose speech about teaching children to tell stories has touched numerous people both within and outside the writing, reading and publishing communities. Dr Keenan's Sydney Story Factory "runs creative writing classes for disadvantaged schoolchildren, one-quarter of whom are Indigenous. … [Since July 2012,] the whole enterprise has seen the minds of thousands of young people bubble and erupt into poems, plays, essays, stories and books, under the gentle eyes of 1200 trained volunteers".
Here is the part of Dr Keenan's speech that particularly grabs me:
"Telling stories is a fundamental part of being human. It's how we understand the world around us and how we convince others to work with us to change it. It is also – and anyone who has sat with a child will tell you this – a profoundly and often wildly creative act. Telling stories is the way we take the complicated emotions and weird spirallings of imagination inside us and give them shape and form. It is how we show who we are to the world.
"We know the huge benefits of helping young people tell their stories. We know it because a growing body of research demonstrates the many and varied benefits that accrue for young people. They are more likely to go on to tertiary education, they watch less TV, they are more likely to volunteer in their community. I have seen it time and again. When kids are able to tell their stories, they stand just that little bit taller."
I hope these words encourage you to pick up a pen (or to turn on a desktop computer, notebook, tablet or smartphone) and tell your own stories. Please also read Ms Julia Baird's beautifully written article on that feeling of rejoicing in someone else's success.
Image thanks to: Something Else: Your Weekly Guide to Alternative Arts.