how do i find my

story and express

it in ways that are

civically meaningful?

Storytelling is a key aspect of finding your voice and is a practice that bridges cultural and civic/political engagement. We define storytelling as a shared activity in which individuals and communities contribute to the telling, retelling, and remixing of narratives through various media channels. To create these stories, youth make use of various media including theater, photography, blogs, books, and videos.


While varied in scope and style, the storytelling we focus on stresses the importance of giving voice to youth -- allowing them to speak for themselves, rather than having someone else speak on their behalf.


Activity 1: Video - The Power of Voice & Storytelling

(30-45 minutes)


This activity invites students to witness first person accounts of young people who have found their voice through narrating their story.





(This 8-minute excerpt was compiled by the MAPP team and edited by Gabriel Peters-Lazaro.)


The linked video features excerpts from a four-part webinar series that was organized by the Media, Activism and Participatory Politics (MAPP) Project at the University of Southern California. Organized around the lifecycle of a story, this webinar series brought together civically active youth to discuss how political narratives are created, produced, spread, and re-contextualized in digital spaces through “digital afterlife” and how storytelling is a core practice for real world change.   


Start by asking your students to watch this video. This is an introduction you may use:

“It’s simple enough, just people talking through their webcams.  And at just over 8 minutes, it’s admittedly on the long side for an online video.  But if you take the time to watch and listen, you’ll be rewarded with a direct view into the vital processes that surround the transitions between personal expression and civic engagement that infuse the circumstances in which youth learn to exercise their agency and voice as storytellers in a networked world.”  


Have your students discuss the following questions in pairs or small groups:

  • So, what did you see?  Who were the people in the video?

  • What did the participants say about their choices as storytellers?

  • Why do they tell their stories?

  • How do they share them?

  • What are some of the considerations they mention?

  • How does this apply to you and issues you care about?


Then convene the whole class again and ask the students share out the their answers to the questions. End with a discussion about how students think about their own stories in relation to finding their voice.

© 2018 by the MacArthur Research Network on Youth and Participatory Politics

Students explore their identities and communities, identify civic issues that matter to them, and consider how they might use digital media for civic participation.

Students work to understand and analyze civic information online, and consider what information they

can trust.

Students navigate diverse perspectives and exchange ideas about civic issues in our inter-connected world .

Students consider how, when and to what end they can create, remix and otherwise re-purpose content that they share with others in online spaces.

Students consider a broad range of tactics and strategies for acting on civic issues.