One afternoon in 2010, while Liz Warren, Director of the Storytelling Institute, and I were trying to get too much done in her too-small office, Donna Martin, coordinator of volunteers at the Boys and Girls Club of Metro Phoenix walked in.
She wanted storytelling help with the BGCMP Youth of the Year Journey.
Donna and I already knew each other. We had both earned our Academic Certificate in Storytelling from the Storytelling Institute. We were also both graduates of Prescott College and thus shared the unique experience of a limited residency program at a school that embodies the motto of “For the Liberal Arts, Social Justice and the Environment.” A year earlier, she had been a student in my Story Circle Class at the Institute.
She started by outlining the Youth of the Year journey. As I understood it, the BGCMP assembled a group of youth, one from each of the twelve individual clubs in Phoenix and prepared them to – among other things – give a speech during the annual “Today’s Kids Tomorrow’s Stars” event where the BCCMP Youth of the Year would be announced. The Toastmasters had been doing an excellent job helping the youth polish their speeches but Donna wanted to find a way to make them more fluid, more based on image than on memorization.
Ideas began to bounce around inside my head. “These kids are on a journey, right? A hero’s journey – what can be done with that?” Yes, I was teaching Mythology that semester!
Donna also talked about the background of the kids who attend Boys and Girls Clubs. Many are members of minority groups, many live in single-parent (or guardian) households. Those households are often at or below the poverty line.
I began to think about Hans, the unloved half-hedgehog, half-human who left a life in a box of straw to win an honorable princess. Story prompts from Hans my Hedgehog mixed with a Hero’s Journey?
Donna and I began batting ideas around. Liz threw some more ideas at us and told us to go for it.
Next thing I knew I had agreed to work with the twelve Youth of the Year candidates. They were beginning a journey and so was I.