Living History Storytelling and the Hands Across the AgesOrganization Associated with Program
The Living History Storytelling program at the Kennett Area Senior Center is currently in its eighth year, and has been replicated at the Coatesville area senior center.Â There are over 30 seniors who participate weekly. During the program, participants share stories based on a weekly prompt. The sessions often include movement and songs. In June, the group presented their stories at the June Birthday luncheon for both centers.
Arts Holding Hands and Hearts also runs an intergenerational program, Hands Across the Ages, where seniors and teenagers come together to share their stories and create a theater piece that includes spoken word, movement, and dance. Stories are presented to the community with opportunity for dialog with the audience.
The program that launched the LivingHistory Storytelling program at the Kennett Area Senior Center was the NCCA "Creativity Matters" Town Hall meeting at the WorldCafe Live in Philadelphia, PA. Program creator, Jan Michener, is a member of CAAN and was one of the organizers. She is a teaching artist for Philadelphia Young Playwrights and decided to do a 10-session storytelling program with seniors and is in the eight year of that 10-week program. The Philadelphia Cultural Alliance has generously funded the program every year. Since it's beginning, the program has expanded it to other centers and added the intergenerational component with Hands Across the Ages with the mission of sharing our stories to honor and cherish our gifts, respect our differences, and build community.
Evaluations are conducted ongoing throughout the program by the staff. Evaluations include interviews, individual assessments, attendance numbers, and press reviews.
It is very important to set expectations of creative engagement and create a safe space where all voices are heard and honored in a non judgmental atmosphere. The five agreements set at the beginning of each session are: 1. Keep yourself safe both emotionally and physically, 2. Keep each other safe emotionally and physically, 3. Be present and participate 4. Take risks and say yes to possibilities 5. Have fun