19 Sep The Power of Story to Change Things
Last Wednesday night I spoke to a graduate level class of 35 film students at Columbia University in New York City about the power of storytelling to promote social change. During the fall semester, the class will be creating a multi-media experience based on the Orange Duffel Bag Foundation (www.ODBF.org) and My Orange Duffel Bag – A Journey to Radical Change with the goal of helping more people understand what it is like to age out of the foster care system at age 18. Taught by Lance Weiler and Atley Loughridge, the course entitled “Building Storyworlds” is within the Columbia University School of the Arts Film Division, which is chaired by Ira Deutchman. ODBF’s mission is to provide life plan coaching and advocacy for homeless youths and teens aging out of foster care as well as raising community awareness about the many barriers the young people face. This connection with Columbia will make our work known to people all over the world, because the project will be accessible online.
On Saturday, I watched 21 more teenagers graduate from our 12-week coaching program. Each gave a presentation based on which of Sam’s 7 Rules for the Road meant the most to them. They shared their stories and their journeys with the 60 adults gathered to celebrate their achievements. I was reminded that everything starts with a story. Sam Bracken was willing to share his story and be vulnerable about painful things in his past. His courage has sparked hundreds of young people to do the same and to talk about their pasts as a way to open the door to their futures. I am humbled to see what the power of a story has accomplished so far.