Harnessing the power of storytelling for healing and for social change


A NEW online project will empower marginalised young people to share their life story and help them build a brighter future.

Past Present Future Change’ is aimed at youth workers, teachers and activists to help harness the power of storytelling to deliver positive change in post-conflict societies.

The downloadable toolkit, available here, enables facilitators to help young people to tell their story and transform their experience. It was created by Rory Doherty, a Project Coordinator for Quaker Service in Northern Ireland, with support from Social Change Initiative.

A webinar launching the project featured Cristina Jiménez, co-founder of United We Dream, the renowned youth-led organisation using storytelling to push for change in immigration legislation in the United States. In this audio clip from the event Cristina discusses the theory behind her storytelling work.

Listen also to Cristina’s account of how storytelling has helped fuel social change in the United States.

Past Present Future Change was created by Rory Doherty as part of his SCI Fellowship, which helped him to study and apply models of international best practice for youth-based campaigns for positive change. Hear Rory outline his hopes for Past Present Future Change at its launch:

His toolkit addresses the fact that young people living in post-conflict societies can face a host of challenges.

The launch also featured Paddy Heathwood from Belfast, who reflected on his experience of storytelling as a tool for personal change and for social change.

Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People Koulla Yiasouma welcomed the unveiling of the new toolkit. She cited the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, including its provision for the right to freedom of expression.

"Article 13 talks about, the child shall have the right to freedom of expression, this right shall include the freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, or in the form of art, or through any other media of the child's choice."

The Commissioner added: "So there it is. Our government are obliged to create that space, to be that audience, for your stories to be told."

  • See 'Past Present Future Change' here.
  • Find out more about the SCI Fellowship Programme here.