Digital storytelling is the modern expression of the ancient art of storytelling. Throughout history, storytelling has been used to share knowledge, wisdom, and values. Stories have taken many different forms. Stories have been adapted to each successive medium that has emerged, from the circle of the campfire to the silver screen, and now the computer screen. (Digital Storytelling Association, 2011, para. 1)
Digital storytelling is a personal narrative presented in digital format. Stories, whether told digitally or traditionally can create the opportunity for individuals to see themselves in another’s experience and discover that they are not alone as well as providing the opportunity to see and experience other people’s circumstances and perspectives. Digital storytelling has the potential to connect individuals as a community through shared experiences and to help develop tolerance by understanding each other’s stories.
This year at SCCA we wanted to start to capture some of the amazing life stories of our wonderful residents. Sharing a life story can be a validating and life affirming experience for the storyteller and has been shown to have beneficial effects on well being from depression through to mental cognition. We wanted to bring them a stimulating, engaging, meaningful creative project that would allow them to feel that they are a participating in the wider community and have some fun along the way! We also wanted to train some of our fantastic staff and volunteers so that we can continue to amass these stories, for our residents and their families as well as to support causes like Dementia Awareness Month 2016. In our pilot project, specifically for Dementia Awareness Month we collaborated with Coffs Coast Community College who sent us a wonderful trainer. We enlisted volunteers who worked with the storytellers from our SCCA community, one who has a diagnosis of dementia, one who has a father living with dementia and one who has a husband living with dementia. Their stories aren’t about dementia as such but they all have a connection in some way to dementia. It’s sometimes been quite an emotional journey for our storytellers to revisit their pasts, but they all say it’s been a wonderful positive experience in so many ways.
We had a wonderful first screening of the stories in a “Red Carpet Event” that all the residents enjoyed.
Our intention is to continue our community collaborations next year and build on this pilot project. We’d love to involve schools and other community participants to capture more stories (both dementia and non-dementia related) for our residents and their families as a way of building connection through generations and preserving this fascinating living history. In an Aged Care scenario and for SCCA particular, it’s a project that enhances the quality of life for every resident who chooses to participate.