Meet Maia Blog Tour: Story Bridge, an inter-generational storytelling project inspired by Maia and What Matters

Today we’re taking part in the Meet Maia Blog Tour organised by publishing houcv_maia_and_what_mattersse Book Island. Our guest blogger is storyteller Emily Duizend from Story Island.

We are giving a copy of this book away at 5pm today. To be in to win please email info@booksellers.co.nz with your name and address, and ‘maia’ in the subject.

As a storyteller who tells for people of all ages I have developed a strong personal belief that for every human being, no matter what age, the imagination is always there for us – ready to play with us, to take us on journeys and to help us build worlds of wonder that we can share with others. It’s just sometimes, for some of us, we forget we have this wonderful capacity…

About a year ago I came across TimeSlips – a method of storytelling for people with Alzheimer’s and dementia. TimeSlips was developed in 1996 and since then over 2000 people have trained as facilitators. The method uses unusual pictures and open ended questions to coax participants into using their imaginations to tell stories about what is happening in the pictures. For people with dementia, it replaces the pressure to remember with the freedom to imagine. I was inspired to become a TimeSlips facilitator as I love spending time with elders and revelling in story and the imagination. A year later, having delivered workshops to elders in rest homes, I have not only seen wonderful  and highly imaginative stories created by them, but have also seen the joy they experience through being able to use their imagination in a playful and creatively engaging process.

It was this experience that led me to partner with Greet Pauwelijn, owner of children’s book publisher Book Island, to develop an inter-generational storytelling project that draws on the TimeSlips method. The project, called the Story Bridge, is funded by the Kapiti Coast District Council through the Creative Communities Scheme. It involves a class of 9 and 10-year-olds from Raumati South School and a group of elders in a high care unit of a local retirement home, and is inspired by the children’s book Maia and What Matters by Tine Mortier and Kaatje Vermeire, published by Book Island.

Maia and What Matters is the story of a young girl who shares a close bond and similar dynamic spirit with her grandmother. When Maia’s grandmother suffers a stroke their bond is able to transcend aging, illness and death.  As you can see below the book features stunning, surprising and highly moving illustrations that accompany the story and are perfect for the TimeSlips method.
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While the book covers serious issues, the spirit of the Story Bridge project, like the enduring spirit of Maia and her grandmother, is fun and creative. Using the book’s beautiful illustrations as inspiration, the participating class and aged care residents are taking part in story making workshops to develop their own imaginative stories. Children are also creating new illustrations for the newly created stories. We are about half way through the project at the moment. There have been some weird and wonderful stories created, and the children can’t wait to share their stories with the elders, which will happen in a couple of weeks.

Already there are already many exciting things about this project. In using the same pictures to create stories the participants are discovering the imaginative capacities of themselves and each other. In doing so they are learning more about what they have in common, rather than their differences. Thus we really are hoping to build a “story bridge” across the generations with the imagination being the path that joins us together. Hopefully this is just the start of the Story Bridge project, which we hope to offer in the future to other schools and rest homes. Keep visiting Story Island’s blog for updates on this inspiring project!

The next stop in the Meet Maia Blog Tour is The Caker.
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