CLOSER LOOK: Young Storytellers Outreach Brings Kid-Scripts To Stage

Posted on Friday, December 1, 2023 by Monika Kelly, Marya Morgan

(K-LOVE Closer Look) – Children feel a thrill seeing their scripts come to life with the help of creative-writing mentors and local actors who volunteer to perform. 

Young Storytellers has been so transformative in my life,” says Eliana Pipes, who entered the program when she was a child aged 10. She was so impacted that she is now a part of the organization as a board member. “When I had my 4th grade showing, my mother came,” she recalls. “It made her see me in a new light, to walk in and see all these actors performing this story that her little kid had written.” 

All the one-on-one coaching, poster designs and story performances are provided at no cost to the kids.

“Parents really talk about how this program unlocks something in their child,” says Pipes, and while she herself did grow up to a career in scriptwriting, she emphasizes that is not the goal of the Biggest Show projects. Storytelling "can be empowering and joyful and playful and fun -- but storytelling is also part of moving through your day-to-day life,” she explains. “We tell stories to our friends and to our families -- we tell stories to ourselves as we reflect our own experiences in our lives -- we tell stories in job interviews.”

“Storytelling really supports students with everything they want to do with the rest of their lives.”

Pipes also describes storytelling as a way to foster empathy in children as they grow. “More often than not there's a moment in the story where you know the person who was the bully or the person who was the bad guy reveals something about their own experience,” she notes, confirming a well-written story requires students to consider all points of view. 

“I think those are such crucial skills and really a way of going throughout the world with open-heartedness that makes the world a better place.”

In the 25-years since Young Storytellers began it has impacted more than 18,000 kids in neighborhoods who might have otherwise missed out on arts education. Though based primarily in Los Angeles, the program works to scale and share its success with other cities by providing a free series of 12-short videos online called Story Time that educators can use to train students to shape stories. The crew is also creating a toolkit to help the arts communities in other cities develop their own local Young Storytellers program.

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