Students from Upper Arlington High School 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. This past summer, Fellinger and Woods-Spikes facilitated a two-week storytelling workshop for middle school students as part of the Upper Arlington Schools Summer BRIDGE to Achievement and Well-Being program. They also previously partnered to bring other storytelling events to students in the Upper Arlington Schools.
“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.”
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, from 9:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Woods-Spikes served as the main presenter and facilitator.
The goal of the event was to help young people shape their stories in a way that can create positive change in our central Ohio community. 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 our strategic plan priority of student and staff well-being and our 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.