Saturday, April 14, 2012

Day 166 - the power of sharing stories

Okay, so for the last 30 days I have regularly posted gratitudes and positive experiences, and now I find myself sitting here thinking "I need to post, why haven't I written anything today?" It would seem that the legacy of this particular activity is that I now feel the need to post daily. I'm assuming this will wane as things progress, but for now I'll humour the OCD thoughts in my head - what have I got to lose?!

But I'm not doing the usual posting, so I was wondering what I could share, and then I remembered a story that someone has recently shared with me. This friend, we'll call him Luke, told us about an amazing experience that he was fortunate enough to have, thanks to his company.


I'm not sure how many of you might know about the Reach organisation in Australia? It was established by an amazing man named Jim Stynes, who has sadly recently lost his battle with cancer. This is part of their About Us blurb on their website:

Reach believes that every young person should have the support and self-belief they need to fulfil their potential and dare to dream.
Our national school and community-based programs are run for young people and designed to promote their mental health and wellbeing. All our programs are run by the young Reach Crew, so there’s no preaching – just young people inspiring young people to believe that, no matter what their circumstances, they can achieve.
Reach creates safe and supportive spaces where teenagers can share stories and experiences honestly. A place where they can increase their self-belief, discover who they are and recognise that they’re not alone.
One of the events that they run is called Camp Maasai, and this is the event that Luke was fortunate enough to participate in. The basic structure of Camp Maasai is that they get together a group of teenagers from their programs and a group of people from corporate Australia. During the camp they pair individuals from the two different groups together and do a number of sharing, trust and other activities with the aims of promoting empathy, understanding and awareness.

An activity of preconceptions
So you can see why I was interested in this activity and what Luke thought about it. This really is an activity to remove the stereotypes that each group has about the other. The people from the corporate group (the adults) develop an understanding of the difficult lives that some of these kids have had. Through the sharing of their stories, the adults develop an appreciation for why these kids are in the situations they are in - and after you understand these stories surely it is difficult to not apply that understanding to other teenagers?

And of course, the adults share their stories with the teenagers as well. They share their histories, the things in their lives they have had to overcome, their failures and their successes. This helps the teenagers understand that there is hope for them, because there is extremely little likelihood that all the adults had "perfect" lives - personally, I would say that nobody ever has a perfect life, we all have obstacles that we have had to overcome. And it also helps them adjust their stereotypes about business people, and even adults in general.

As Luke spoke about it you could see how he was affected by the experience. His concepts about youth and youth issues have changed, and that is only a small part of the overall impact from the camp.

The pieces are coming together
This has strengthened a thought that has already been running through my head since before this project started. This thought is about the amazing power of sharing our stories with others, as Brené Brown would say making ourselves "excruciatingly vulnerable". This has been churning away inside my head, and hearing about Camp Maasai has solidified some of the thoughts, now I just have to think of what action I might be able to take around this.

This thought is to be continued...

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