How Digital Storytelling Can Enhance Health Training, Research, and Advocacy: An Introduction

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StoryCenter 1250 Addison Street, Suite 104, Berkeley, CA 94702510-548-2065 | |

How Digital Storytelling Can Enhance Health Training, Research, and Advocacy: An Introduction Presented by:Amy Hill, Silence Speaks


Narratives rarely, if ever, have a solitary existence. They operate concurrently in relation to other stories, and may reinforce, indirectly compete with, or actively confront and resist one another in ways that shape our understandings.

(Sharf et al., in The Routledge Handbook of Health Communication, 2011)


Agenda for Todays Session Background on StoryCenter and Storywork Digital Storytelling Basics: Rationale,Theory, Activities Sharing Stories to Effect Change: A Distribution Model Key Steps in Project Planning Ethical Considerations for Digital StorytellingView Story

Questions and Discussion


Background on StoryCenter and storywork Developed original digital storytelling methodology in 1993 Lengthy history of collaborative storytelling and media efforts worldwide Pioneers in a range of storywork approaches, all of which emphasize:- first person narrative- group process- participatory production


Digital Storytelling Basics: What is the rationale for using personal narrativeas part of health promotion work?

Stories can address universal themes Stories can create intimacy between the teller and listener Stories can avoid messaging Stories can convey a sense of honesty


Digital Storytelling Basics: What theoretical perspectives and methodologiesinform our approach? Popular Education Culture-Centered Approach Narrative and Art Therapy Testimonio

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Digital Storytelling Basics: Workshop Activities Introductions, Story Examples, Seven Steps of Digital Storytelling Writing Prompts and Script Development Story Circle Image Gathering: archival material; on-site photography and videography; art-making activities Voiceover Recording

Editing Tutorial, Participant-Driven Editing Story Screening and Celebration


Sharing Stories to Effect Change:A Distribution Model

Education & Training

CommunityBuilding &Mobilization

Policy Advocacy* Created to describe our work with Sonke Gender Justice; based on the Spectrum of Prevention approach and the Social and Behavior Change Communication (SBCC) model.

Digital Storytelling

Reflection & Leadership Development


Ethical Considerations for Digital Storytelling: StoryCenters Ethical Practice Guidelines

View Story View Consent as a Process, Not a One-Time Event Ensure Local Relevance Have Clarity re: Knowledge Production and Ownership Protect and Enhance Storyteller Well-Being Understand Ethical Decision-Making as an Ongoing Activity Practice Ethical Story Distribution


Rather than going over in our principles for ethical practice in Storywork in detail, Im going to define each one very briefly and then let interested participants look later at the material on our web site, which can be accessed at the bottom of the slide.


The first principle centers on storyteller wellbeing.

Ive included a link to a nice article about our work some years ago with Ugandan women who have experienced obstetric fistula, which really highlights the concrete benefits to participating storytellers.

This principle is a way of expressing that we believe that storytellers physical, emotional, and social wellbeing should be at the center of all phases of a project. Facilitators should have the ability to meet/work with individual participants where they are.

A quick example of this is offered by the Syriaza experience, in terms of the decision to support survivors of human rights abuses in narrating their lives holistically and not merely recounting their suffering.

SECOND BULLET POINT: The second principle expands conventional practices for requesting consent from storytellers, by:

- Providing them with the information they need to make choices about participation and release of materials, particularly in terms of protecting their safety and dignity;

- Supporting them in making decisions they feel good about, regarding the content, production, and use of their work;

Making sure they understand they have the right to withdraw their stories from public circulation at any time, recognizing the technical constraints of removing digital material from electronic forms of distribution.

Basically, consent must be viewed as a process, not a one-time activity.


The third principle centers on the multiple connotations of knowledge production and ownership. In other words:

Storytellers have the right to represent themselves as they see fit, in the language they prefer to use and with images of their choice. They should be provided with the space and flexibility to describe their own experiences within the parameters or thematic concerns of a given project.

Alices experience offers a good example of how we approach this topic. My co-facilitator at the workshop spoke with her at length, during the workshop, about her memories of learning the origins of FGM, about her decision to protect her girls from the practice, about her advocacy work. Allison, the co-facilitator, then worked with her to identify what would make the greatest impact with local audiences in Northern Kenya.


The fourth principle emphasizes the need for local relevance.

An example here is the approach used by Syriaza, to find interpreters. Rather than going with professional Arabic-English interpretation, they reached out to a Syrian immigrant / refugee rights organization based in Spain and brought them in. This allowed for a high level of trust, in the interpretation, even if it wasnt always as thorough or quick as it might have been with trained interpreters. In this case, the trust piece was much more important, given the subject matter and the sensitivity of some of the stories that were shared.

The link here is to an article about our work in 2011 with survivors of Gender-Based Violence in Nepal, which took a similar approach, working with young women university students, as interpreters, who were age and gender-peers with the storytellers.


The fifth point I think is self-explanatory. Its meant to underscore that ethics must be understood as a process that involves ongoing dialogue among storytellers, facilitators, and project partners about how best to design and implement an ethically responsible project, in terms of goals and objectives for WHY a storytelling approach is desired.


And finally, the last point addresses what happens to stories after theyre created. Our view is that story distribution should be rooted in the needs of and designed to benefit local communities first and foremost, rather than serving the agendas of distant viewers, organizations, or funders.



Key Steps in Digital Storytelling Planning Define Your Purpose for Supporting Story Development Consider the Ethical Implications of Your Project Identify Your Audiences: Storytellers and Story Viewers Create a Strategy for Story Distribution to Effect Change Ensure Adequate Resources to Achieve Desired Goals

Evaluate Effectiveness for Workshop Participants and Audiences


Questions and Discussion

Please dont hesitate to contact us if you would like more information on storywork or digital storytelling:

Amy Hillamylenita@storycenter.org510-682-8311

StoryCenter 1250 Addison Street, Suite 104, Berkeley, CA 94702510-548-2065 | |

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