Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Young Storytellers Foundation

The Young Storytellers Foundation is just about my favorite volunteer organization ever. I think I've been involved for about 2 or 3 years now. What is it? Here's a blurb from their site:

In all of our programs, students are given guidance as they envision and write their own original short screenplay. At the end of the program, professional actors perform the students’ scripts in front of an audience comprised of their classmates, teachers and parents. Young Storytellers does this with the efforts of an active volunteer base of over 2,500 people from the entertainment industry. We bring professionals into the classroom, giving students an experience that they can build on through the remainder of their academic careers.

What does that mean for me? It depends on whether I'm a mentor or a performer for their end of the program Big Show. As a mentor, over a period of 8 weeks, I and 10 other mentors meet once a week for an hour to help guide students into writing a screenplay for the first time ever. Here, more than any other aspect of life, you learn how powerful the word YES is. We never tell a child 'no', we always say, "yes, and then what?" There are no bad ideas. We show them how to take a simple idea and make it into a 5 page screenplay. We encourage outrageous, silly, and original ideas. While in the process of learning how brilliant and creative they really are, they learn how to format a screenplay. It's pretty fun and always remarkable.

At the end of the 8 weeks, they have a Big Show. It's where their screenplays are performed by real life Hollywood actors! This is how I first found YSF. Several friends from The Hothouse volunteer as mentors and performers and asked if I'd like to play too. YES! I don't think I've ever had more fun onstage. Not only do I selfishly bask in the silliness and fun I personally get to have, but it's fantastic to know I've helped a child see how fun it is to be creative. The Big Show let's the students bask in a terrific glow. They get to walk down a red carpet, pictures are taken, and they get to feel like a treasured celebrity. Oh, they get so excited and nervous! It's adorable and wonderful to see them glow and bask in the joy they receive.

This Sunday, YSF is having a picnic for all mentors and performers alike to gather and have some good times. People who are interested in volunteering in any capacity are encouraged to come! Here's the link: Unfortunately, I have to miss it. :( I'm working on a short film that day, (cool!), so I'll miss the fun.

This coming Fall, I get to be a Head Mentor. That means I'll be leading a classroom for one hour a week. Yikes! Exciting and nerve wracking to be sure. This program is great though, I may be leading the talks, but I won't be by myself. Knowing that there are 10 mentors to back me up is a huge relief. This Fall is gonna be some good times.

I'm going to include a video from a couple years back. It's actually covers a Big Show that I got to perform in and there are many a familiar face in there. At least to me, anyway. Ha. (You'll even see me in some snippets!). But here's a great way to learn about YSF and what they do. If you want to know more, don't hesitate to ask, or contact them here.

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