Community Bridges in Central New Hampshire promotes opportunities for people with developmental disabilities to exert positive control over their lives. The organization focuses on supporting all members of the local community – those with developmental disabilities, and those without – in benefitting from caring, connected relationships. In the fall of 2014, Community Bridges reached out to StoryCenter, with a desire to explore how story sharing and storymaking can break down the stigma of disability and promote mutually helpful relationships.
We spent several months supporting the organization in building internal capacity for leading digital storytelling processes with staff, members of the local disability community, and family members, friends, and others. Most of the storytellers who attended the three, three-day workshops that we led are parents of children with developmental disabilities – their stories emphasize the full humanity of their children, and their constant struggle to combat the stigma of disability that so often deprived these children of opportunities. The sensitive topics explored in the workshops brought these family members closer together, in addition to enabling them to create short media pieces.
After the initial introductory sessions, we conducted a two-week facilitator training with Community Bridges staff, who are now leading workshops with members of the larger community they serve. By the end of the longer training, Community Bridges was left with a team of enthusiastic, new digital storytelling workshop facilitators, eager and ready to practice their skills.