By Troy Hunter, Director of Research, Evaluation, and Performance, Groundwork Ohio
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In a world inundated with data and statistics, it's often the power of a compelling story that truly captivates our hearts and minds. Stories have the unique ability to provide context to facts and figures, connecting with our emotions and inspiring us to take action. Groundwork Ohio understands the transformative potential of storytelling in the realm of early childhood advocacy. This past Saturday, a group of dedicated fellows gathered for a storytelling workshop led by LORE, a storytelling organization committed to helping professionals use narratives to drive meaningful change. Storytelling and narratives are imperative to advancing early childhood advocacy and how these skills can prepare fellows to be change-makers in this vital space.
The Early Childhood Leadership Fellowship
Groundwork Ohio's Early Childhood Leadership Fellowship is an initiative that brings together leaders from various corners of the state, all united by a shared commitment to champion early childhood issues in policy. This fellowship program seeks to inspire change through a well-crafted curriculum that includes keynote speakers, online learning experiences, discussions with policymakers, networking opportunities, technical assistance, and small group projects. The goal is to equip these fellows with the knowledge and skills necessary to advocate effectively for infants, toddlers, families, and communities.
The Power of Stories in Advocacy
Advocacy is about more than just presenting data and making logical arguments. It's about creating a connection with your audience, moving them on an emotional level, and inspiring them to take action. This is where storytelling comes into play. Stories have the ability to humanize complex issues, making them relatable and accessible to a wider audience. When facts and figures fail to resonate, a well-told story can break down barriers.
Stories can also provide context and depth to policy discussions. They offer real-life examples of the challenges and triumphs within the early childhood space, making it easier for policymakers and stakeholders to understand the impact of their decisions. As the saying goes, "People don't buy what you do; they buy why you do it." Stories help convey the "why" behind early childhood advocacy, making it more compelling and persuasive.
The Expertise of LORE
At the heart of Groundwork Ohio's storytelling workshop is LORE led by Bridget Flaherty. Bridget's background in information technology and business process may seem unconventional for a storytelling expert, but it's this unique combination that makes her exceptionally qualified to teach storytelling for business and advocacy.
Bridget's journey into storytelling began when she stepped onto a stage and won a storytelling competition. She recognized that captivating stories could impact business success through effective leadership, marketing, increased sales, and clarified company culture. LORE, under Bridget's guidance, offers workshops, small group sessions, and one-on-one coaching for business professionals looking to harness the power of storytelling. Her curriculum is tailored to the needs of business and advocacy professionals, making storytelling a tangible and practical tool for driving change.
Bringing Storytelling into the Fellowship
Groundwork Ohio's Early Childhood Leadership Fellowship understands the importance of storytelling in advancing early childhood advocacy. The collaboration with LORE and Bridget Flaherty highlights the commitment to providing fellows with the best tools available to champion high-quality early learning and healthy development for Ohio's children and families.
Xiara, a 2022 fellow, demonstrates the power of a story here:
Hearing the stories of our leadership fellows was captivating. Hearing the “Why” behind what they do is inspiring. Our fellows are motivated by influential family members who went before them, Parents who fought for what their child needs, and resilient children that deserve more than what Ohio has provided them. Fellows will use the power of these stories to be catalysts for change in our states. Groundwork Ohio is committed to providing data-informed policy initiatives and it is stories like these that breathe life into the facts.
Over the next few months, fellows will continue fine-tuning their stories, preparing their personal narratives for wherever they might be used, be it the stage, their workplaces, or policymakers’ offices. We have no doubt they’ll be ready.