Giving the gift of literacy through personal stories

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r Porter Olsen & Amy Chandler

Recently a local young man Porter Olson joined several nonprofits together through his Eagle Scout project. He worked with My Story Matters in Springville, UT to make story kits to be sent to Ghana, Africa to be used in their literacy centers. These books also help kids build their confidence, identify goals and provide key tools to learn how to achieve these goals. Ultimately, they help kids develop hope in the future through their own personal narrative. The completed albums were delivered to a nonprofit out of Orem, UT called “Families Mentoring Families”. This organization helps the people in Ghana with literacy, hygiene, and other humanitarian needs.

In Ghana, the literacy rate is very low. These books will teach them they can choose to become the hero in their story. They can learn how to reframe their difficult experiences into superpowers and strengths to become more self-reliant. Through this, My Hero Journey curriculum that will accompany the albums students will tell their own stories and then learn to read and write with their own stories. They will then be able to teach their parents to do the same through their own story.

When asked why Porter chose this for his Eagle project he said, “I like how “My Story Matters” touches so many people’s lives.” This was no small task for him to complete. On the day of the event, they had 12 tables set up to help create the books full of cutters, glue, paper, and sheet protectors. Assembly lines were formed and albums were assembled. A project like this can’t be completed without the help of a community! Porter shares what made this possible, “My Story Matters worked with Youngevity to help us obtain the supplies needed for this project and provided the vision of how to make it happen. When the project was over, we had 64 volunteers that worked a total of 203 hours. I personally put in 63 hours and, in total, we completed 48 books.” In the book, each page talks about a different facet of the child’s life. The children will then add their stories and their photos to these albums as part of the literacy program. Families Mentoring Families will deliver these albums to Ghana and start using them immediately.

This was a great learning experience for everyone and especially for Porter. He shares, “I learned that although some of the kids in parts of Ghana live in dirt huts and don’t have clean water, they are happy for stuff that we take for granted. It is very highly prized to be given the opportunity to learn to read. I also learned that if you are illiterate, you are looked down upon. We want to change that because that is just wrong! We want to help parents and children learn how to read and write with the assistance of these books. I also learned how much can be accomplished with people come together for good.”

The gift of story is one that will gain value over time and create a ripple of change for generations to come. We’re grateful to have so many organizations in our community who are working to have a positive impact on the stories of the people they serve!

Chris Baird
Chris Baird
Chris is a family man with a beautiful wife and four kids. Three Girls, One Boy. He enjoys playing basketball, being outdoors, and the old normal.

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