Every day, in and out of school, middle schoolers are exploring who they are in the world. As youth workers, we can help them shape their story. Every concern, problem or “drama” that middle schoolers share with us can be an entry point to helping them form their identity. How do they see themselves in their own story? Victim? Hero? Supernatural Aid/Mentor?
I have been working in the past decade to help staff and young people create spaces that promote identity exploration through blogging, social media, art and other story forms. By creating these spaces, middle schoolers can tell us who they are and who they want to be. This helps us to build engaging programs that support their dreams and provide a platform for their voice. We also know that if we can get young people to share stories about themselves, we can open them up to many new experiences.
I’ve put together some articles/resources I have found useful in training staff and educating myself on how to build storytelling into programming and staff development. Choose your own adventure:
With your morning coffee or tea: These resource breaks down how to do a storytelling project with young people. I highly suggest trying it out with your staff. What is the story the adults in the building are telling young people about who you are and what you do?
On that lunch break you never take: I can’t get enough of the Hero’s Journey. This is still the best video I have found to explain Joseph Campbell’s brilliant theory. I’ve used this in staff trainings and with young people. Who doesn’t like a good cartoon?
When the red line breaks down or after a Netflix binge when you need to recover your brain power: This one I read every three months just to remind me of the power of storyelling. It’s wordy, long, and theoretical. Perfect, if you ask me.
And another one for fun:I haven’t tried this out yet, but I signed up for the online seminar on February 5th. Join me! Maybe we can all do it together somewhere!
Melinda running a storytelling workshop with youth workers at Agenda for Children Out-of-School Time Symposium in November 2017.
Melinda Barbosa is a trainer, facilitator and youth worker who believes in a program culture that encourages youth-owned ideas and projects supported by staff members trained to nurture growth and who encourage youth to imagine inconceivable possibilities for themselves. Melinda regularly presents her work in positive youth development, behavior management strategies and professional development of staff at local and national conferences.