Students from Upper Arlington High School recently came together with students from two other Columbus area schools to elevate their voices and share the power of their unique and personal stories in a workshop at the Columbus Metropolitan Main Library.
The Voices of Empathy Storytelling Workshop grew from a partnership between Tricia Fellinger, a global language teacher at Upper Arlington High School, and Donte Woods-Spikes, Columbus artist, documentary filmmaker and storyteller. Approximately 36 students from Upper Arlington High School, Bexley High School and Eastmoor Academy participated in the Voices of Empathy workshop on November 12, 2021. Woods-Spikes served as the main presenter and facilitator.
“Everyone has a story — and those stories can be powerful vehicles for positive change in our communities,” Fellinger said. “Sometimes, young people feel like no one is listening to them, and that’s when they turn to social media to express their frustrations, fears and dreams. We want to equip young people with the tools to use their voices in spaces other than social media.”
At the workshop, students built skills relating to the three major aspects of storytelling: personal narrative, telling someone else’s story, and listening to someone’s story. The program gave students the opportunity to develop empathy as they listen to and learn from perspectives different from their own. When rooted in awareness and understanding, these skills are fundamental to sustaining an inclusive culture in Upper Arlington Schools, which directly supports the district’s strategic plan priority of student and staff well-being and commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.
Voices of Empathy was organized by Upper Arlington Schools with the financial support of several Columbus and Upper Arlington community organizations.