Sharing stories

Alan and Faye MacFarlane

Alan and Faye MacFarlane sharing stories at Uniting Agewell

By Ben Grundy

Uniting AgeWell residents have been sharing stories through a program that puts the spotlight on life experience and personal mementos.

The ‘My Story’ project provides volunteer ‘story catchers’ and ‘storytellers’ the opportunity to share unique personal memories of life experience.

Karl Moon, education project coordinator at Uniting AgeWell, has managed the project since late last year.

“One of our biggest hurdles was encouraging client participation in the project – to me this was a great surprise,” Mr Moon said.

“Our first correspondence returned only 40 willing participants. The overwhelming response to the project was ‘my life was not special or extraordinary’.

“This project shows all stories are special.”

Despite initial trepidation, many residents were happy to share and showcase an array of unique stories reflecting broad life experiences.

Participants engage with volunteers, staff and family members to produce keepsake items such as short films, photo and artwork albums or professionally bound books to share with family and friends.

“The recruitment of volunteer story catchers was vital to the success of the project,” Mr Moon said.

“We were overwhelmed by the skill, dedication and diversity of volunteers that have worked on the project in the last six months.”

Volunteers included Year 12 students from an intergenerational project partnership with Aquinas College Ringwood, graphic designers, photographers, counselors, film students and professional editors.

“All the volunteers have an interest and passion for storytelling and improving the lives of older people,” Mr Moon said.

“It’s not just about the stories. It’s the relationship and the end result of a keepsake that is the essence of the project.”

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