Book: Our Stories Connect: Children at the Well Guidebook

Carol Durant

The last two years have shown us that we need our feelings to have an outlet outside of our heads and hearts. Our children especially need an avenue to channel their feelings in a positive and safe environment. Paula B. Weiss entered the world of storytelling in 2002, after she and her daughter Adah, attended a women’s interfaith dinner and was seated next to Gertrude Johnson, founder of the Interfaith Story Circle. Mrs. Johnson invited them to the next story circle. Adah was a delightful yet shy eleven year old who enjoyed the Story Circle activities. Adah grew to be a headliner in the group and one of the youngest contributors.

From this initial experience, Paula and Mrs. Johnson are the co-founders of the Children at the Well Youth Storytelling program. Their new organization formed in the wake of 9/11 sought to involve a more culturally diverse population of young people to participate in the enjoyable and valuable activities first witnessed at the Interfaith Story Circle. The organization successfully combated the negative stereotypes by providing a safe environment for the participants to share aspects of their lives and the world at large. These stories ranged from humorous to heart wrenching, but they were impactful to all attendees.

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Our Stories ConnectCarol Durant

Children at the Well provides a comfortable and non judgmental forum to listen and to be heard. The organization’s current program focuses on dissipating ignorance and hate wherever it resides and personal stories of coping and living in the pandemic age.

Paula and her team created a collaborative guidebook called Our Stories Connect, A Children at the Well Guidebook. It’s a blueprint for you to follow toward teaching and building a youth program with storytelling as the conduit. The guidebook provides a template with techniques, tips and insight for a storytelling program in your area. Examples include physical and vocal warm ups, goals and sample administrative letters for teachers, parents, students and volunteers. Also included are testimonials from coaches, teachers and alumni. A successful storytelling youth program in your city, town, village or hamlet can start tomorrow. Teenagers from 11-17 years old in your area will benefit by learning to share their points of view about their world, meet and discuss in a safe environment that you have created. From these experiences, they will be nurtured and grow into inspirational leaders of their communities.

Our Stories Connect: Creating Youth Storytelling Programs to Raise Confident, Compassionate and Capable Leaders, A Children at the Well Guidebook, Paula B Weiss, Editor is available online at Amazon.com or can be ordered at local bookstores.

More information about the program and the organization are available at this link: https://childrenatthewell.org/ which is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.

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Albany, NY
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