Building young people’s empathy and wellbeing through story

This project works to equip children attending two schools in extremely disadvantaged areas of Limerick, Ireland to use their stories to build empathy, shatter stereotypes, break down barriers and ultimately make their communities a better place. The Story Exchange, builds on the simple idea backed by research and the most recent neuroscience: “If I can hear your story deeply enough to retell it in my own words, as if it happened to me- and you can do the same for my story – then we will have seen the world through each other’s eyes”.

Our partner Narrative 4 mostly conducts Story Exchange over a limited period and in one or two classes of a selected school. However, through our partnership, this pilot project will run for one academic year and aims to deeply engage with younger people living in some of Ireland’s most disadvantaged communities over a longer sustained period. Through skill-based workshops, the Story Exchange builds social skills, increases awareness of diversity, increases self-awareness and promotes positive emotions. It instils a powerful sense of belonging and connection and fosters healthy relationships among the young participants. It is a cathartic experience that puts a focus on valuable life-long community building skills (active listening, critical thinking, creativity and communication/ storytelling skills.)

This project will allow a large amount of the student body within these two schools to undergo a story exchange and connect with other students and groups within the school community. Using an evidence-based approach, it aims to bring a focus on empathy, connection, storytelling, creativity and improve the health and well-being of the young people taking part.