OUR STORIES is a story collecting- and telling initiative. It is based around the idea that we are less in touch with our elders now and increasingly disconnected from the wisdom that comes with age. OUR STORIES endeavours to make children at primary school level more aware of the precious resource that grand-and great-grandparents present.

How does OUR STORIES work?

  • The project can be built into the running curriculum tying in with themes such as family, growth or identity.
  • It can take as little or as much time as the head and class teachers choose, between a few  hours stretched over a few weeks or  condensed into one, and can also be combined with school events such as arts day/ week etc.
  • During this time the children are encouraged to collect a story from a great-or grandparent, which they will then share with their class and discuss it together.
  • They will also talk about the differences between their lives and those, which their grandparents have led, look at photographs and illustrate their stories.
  • The final outcome of the project is a book with the entire story collection and all the supporting material.

Why OUR STORIES and Who is behind it?

I am a London based mother with a daughter in primary school.

Since I never had a grandfather (both died long before I was born and I lost my grandmothers when I was quite young)  there was a real lack of intergenerational wisdom- and support in my family with many stories forever lost.

I have discovered that many around me have had similar experiences, often due to family- relocation, conflict and war or family feuds. But I am very fortunate to have become part of another, extended family with a lively storytelling tradition, where family history is a constant talking point.

It is fair to say that this is proving to be an invaluable foundation for my daughter’s understanding of her identity and the world around her. However simple a notion and once a part of most children’s lives, a lively and mutually engaged relationship with at least one  grandparent has become a rarity within a lot of families, so I would like to think that OUR STORIES is about plugging some of those holes that our modern, but often disjointed family stories have created.

(Cosima Shaw, project-co-ordinator)

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