Lessons from Story Hours
Turks and Caicos — Eighth day on this boat and I have only seen one child with a staff from Crystal Cruises who’s with her all the time. I am starting to turn weepy and whiny as I miss my three children and their hyperactive selves.
I’m reading a story I wrote about Rheus Ajoc, a seven-year-old pupil of Babag 1 Elementary School, who has brittle bone disease that stunted his physical growth. Rheus attended the October run of Story Hours, a literacy advocacy that invites children from public and private elementary schools for an afternoon of storytelling and storywriting.
The 2016 to 2017 Story Hours edition is made possible with the partnership of literacy and reading awareness group Basadours, Cebu Daily News, and J Centre Mall. We just launched this last September 24, but we are already seeing and experiencing pockets of inspiration from the participants and volunteers.
Rheus and her mother were the first ones to arrive at the venue among all participants. I know because as a host, I try to be the earliest bird. Later in the program when I called on names for the groupings for the storywriting session, I saw how Rheus enthusiastically joined his group even if it meant crawling from where he was at to the circle that children from Babag 1 Elementary School and Marie Ernestine School has formed.
The volunteer facilitator, Danica Fernandez, told me that Rheus was first to contribute to story ideas and was popular in the group. His groupmates liked him and was actually popular in the group. Nobody teased him for his disability.
In that small circle, there was so much love and respect.
And then, there was grade one pupil Raymond Joshua Maamo of Marie Ernestine School, who made me realize that a change of heart can happen at the last minute.
Here’s what happened.
Story Hours is also a venue for private schools to help their partner public school by donating books to them. The children and their parents are encouraged to bring books during the session. Raymond had four new books with him.
When I announced that the books are to be placed on the platform, the children all rushed in front to submit them. Raymond stood there for a while and whispered to me: “Do I need to donate all books because I’d like to keep one for myself?” I told him it’s up to him. He stood there for what seemed like an eternity and then he said, “Well, I’ll give this last book to them. They need it more.”
I was caught by surprise.
I have hosted and organized literacy sessions since I was 11 and now that I’m 30, I have learned to accept that children can be self-centered. It’s not like they’re evil; it’s just part of their nature. That’s why they need the guidance of adults to help them catch and learn values.
Raymond’s change of heart was cute, but more than that, it was inspiring.
When Story Hours was conceptualized in 2012, I didn’t want it to be just another event or storytelling session. I shared then to our first partners, which included Banilad Town Centre, that it is a yearlong event with a monthly run that will bring together children from all walks of life in one venue in an afternoon of telling and sharing stories.
The next run will be on November 26.
I cannot wait to meet the next batch of children, teachers, parents and volunteers. It’s going to be another inspiring afternoon with heartfelt stories.
See you there!
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