On Thursday 16 July 2020, the MYS (Me and Your Stories) Project held a zoom event to celebrate Heroes and Role Models and to announce the winners of the MYS Lockdown Stories competition.
It was heartwarming and inspiring to see everyone there together on the screen enjoying a virtual gallery of the competition entries and taking part in the awards ceremony. It soon became clear that there are many different ways of sharing our stories and that we all have something to share. Messages, journals, pictures, videos – our ‘Me’ can be captured in a multitude of creative ways.
With her opening words, Gosia Kwiatkowska, RIX Co-director, reminded us of the importance of storytelling. Everyone has their own story to tell. Sharing our stories is important because it can improve our self-esteem. Telling our story can change how other people see us and can help others to recognise that every story matters, every person matters. Storytelling has the power to change society and make the world a better place.
The Me and Your Stories project encourages students to share their personal stories with their friends, families and community members and to be interested in other people’s stories. This approach to getting to know and understand each other promotes the celebration of difference and diversity and is a positive and constructive step towards recognising and countering the more subtle forms of discrimination and prejudice that can influence our social interactions.
Our MYS toolkit provides a platform for these individual and collective stories as well as offering teachers and parents free resources to use in the classroom and at home.
One of the highlights of the 16 July zoom celebration was the moving presentation from Matthew Goodsell. Matthew explained how the world opened up to him on the day he was given his Lightwriter, a communication aid that enabled him to communicate clearly with other people who found him hard to understand and would sometimes use this as an excuse to bully him or to not take him seriously. Matthew’s story is a powerful reminder of how important it is to support people to have a voice and to learn how to listen rather than just hear.
“Making sure people understand the patterns of my voice hasn’t always been easy. I have therefore had to push back against people’s low expectations of me throughout my life. Now that I live independently in London, having left university with a Masters, I think I have proven those who doubted me wrong.”