Conversations with the Elders

“Our stories are how we let people know where we came from and who we are.”

The Byron Healthy Ageing Project aims to increase the opportunities for older people to participate in our community by providing recreational activities which promote connection and social support.

The digital life stories component of the project is based upon the premise that everybody has a story to tell and, it turns out that telling that story and sharing it with others, produces benefits in all sorts of ways. The process of creating and sharing digital stories aims to promote images of older people in our community in a posoitive, interesting and creative way.

The project aims to enrich the lives of seniors and volunteers from Byron Shire by getting them together to take part in a series of 4 stimulating and creative workshops titled “Conversations with the Elders”. By giving seniors the chance to share their stories the project presents a rich opportunity for collaboration, personal reflection and the sharing of experiences and memories. Sharing seemingly mundane details of our lives can impact listeners in profound ways. What is gained in sharing stories within the group and with a larger audience challenges attitudes, builds relationships and forges connections across generations.

Traditionally stories have been passed on by word of mouth and that will be a big part of the process. The process of sharing stories within the sessions will be just as important as the final recordings.

The project will train a group of volunteers in the art of collecting a person’s (wisdom) and experiences on digital media, and then use these skills to create a short DVD. This will transform a one-to-one oral experience into something which can be shared with family, friends or the whole community.

What will happen in the workshops?

Together participants and volunteers will explore the lost art of story telling through a series of fun activities designed to stimulate memories and create an environment of connection. This will support the development of a personal story the participant would like to record and share. The questions will provide a framework for seniors to speak about their lives, sharing different stories from their lives. It will provide a platform for the sharing of insights, wisdom and rich life experiences.

Examples of questions or prompts which might help create an interesting DVD:

  • The most interesting people I have met are ……
  • What is one thing your mother was right about?
  • If I could tell the world one thing….

What will participants get out of it?

Participants will receive a short DVD of the finished film with recorded story session as well as the uncut version of the recording. This will be a lasting legacy for friends and family. There is a website under construction that will serve as a platform for sharing wisdom, information and for the community to interact with the project. ABC Open are supporting this project and content from three of the workshops will go onto the ABC Open website. Participants will retain the copyright. If participants do not want to share their material they can participate in non ABC workshops.

What will volunteers get out of it?

Volunteers get an opportunity to participate in a wonderful project, gain interviewing and story telling skills, get to know and develop a relationship with the workshop participants and the other volunteers as well as an opportunity to work with and learn about digital technology.

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