Stay Young at Heart: Become A Volunteer Storyteller
Most experts agree that the secret to staying mentally alert as we get older is to exercise our minds as well as our bodies. Specific tips suggest that we should:
- Keep learning
- Develop new skills
- Use all of our senses
- Connect with others
- Do things we enjoy
- Volunteer in the community
Fortunately, there is an organization that helps seniors to do all of those things and be treated like a rock star in the process! Spellbinders® trains volunteers in the ancient art of oral storytelling. The training helps volunteers find and practice their natural storytelling “voice” (everybody has one) and provides storytelling tips and resources. Following training, volunteers go into school classrooms once a month and share classic folk and fairy tales, fables, tall tales, historic stories, and other types of stories with the students. Spellbinders storytellers return to the same class-rooms each month, and the students soon eagerly await those visits. The experience is much like having a bevy of adoring grandchildren.
Research verifies that Spellbinders’ stories help children develop literacy skills by sparking imagination and creativity, enhancing language development, and expanding vocabulary. The classroom visits also build connections between generations, thus restoring elders to their traditional role in society — that of the honored keepers of wisdom.
Storytelling is an art form and, like the practice of all arts, the practitioners’ benefits are many. Learning and re-creating stories improves memory and helps minds stay agile, and research shows that older adults who remain meaningfully engaged in their community are healthier and live longer than those who are not.
There are several Spellbinders chapters in the Greater Denver area. Each offers training once or twice annually using a standard curriculum that allows interested volunteers to serve a chapter other than the one where they received their training. For more information on Spellbinders and to find the chapters and training nearest to you, visit www.spellbinders.org.
Article by Wynn Montgomery
Certified Spellbinders Trainer