StoryKasa Spotlight: News, Tips, and More

Storytelling is an ancient art with a captivating history. Across cultures, stories have been passed down as a means to share knowledge, traditions, life lessons, and entertaining tales. But what is it about stories that fascinates us? Neuroscience reveals that stories ignite our imagination and anticipation, activating our brains in unique ways. They transport us to different worlds, allowing us to experience emotions, inhabit places, and live through the journeys of the characters. Being swept away by a story is enchanting at any age, offering solace, empathy, and a connection to our innermost thoughts and feelings. Moreover, stories hold immense strength and hope. In the West African oral storytelling gradition, Anansi the spider embodies cunning and wisdom. Anansi represents diverse aspects of human nature and is the original custodian of all stories. Anansi stories were carried to the Caribbean and the United States, symbolizing resistance against oppression as Anansi outwits his oppressors using his wits. **Why StoryKasa?** Prior to establishing StoryKasa, we embarked on an audio storytelling project in Accra, Ghana, as part of a social entrepreneurship initiative at the London School of Economics. Our social enterprise was named Anansesem, meaning "story" in Twi, a language spoken in Ghana. It also pays homage to Anansi stories, which transcend culture and boundaries, featuring a wise character who uses intelligence to triumph over the mighty. While our initial telephone-based pilot was successful, it lacked scalability. To address this, we developed a web and mobile platform, establishing StoryKasa as a benefit corporation. Our connection to our Ghanaian pilot remains strong, with the inclusion of Kasa in our name, meaning "spoken" in Twi. **So, what are the benefits of listening to stories?** Audio storytelling introduces young children to the wonders of narrative before they can read independently. Listening to stories ignites curiosity, expands vocabulary, and enhances early language and literacy development. According to the UK BookTrust, audio stories also generate interest in reading among children, including those who may be reluctant or struggling readers. **Audio stories can overcome barriers to access!** These benefits are especially significant for children in households with limited access to books or public libraries, resulting in a "word gap." As a purpose-driven social enterprise, reaching these families and communities is a deep-rooted commitment of ours. Audio stories serve as a powerful tool for parents who may lack fluency or confidence in reading aloud to their children. **Stories empower communities to amplify their voices.** Storytelling serves as a means to connect with others, broaden perspectives, and foster community. Based in Los Angeles, a city known for its incredible diversity, multilingualism, and multiculturalism, StoryKasa embraces stories from various communities to better understand and appreciate our collective diversity. As per the US Census, over half of Angelenos speak a language other than English at home, with Spanish, Mandarin, Tagalog, Korean, and Armenian being the most common. Moreover, StoryKasa is a global storytelling platform that welcomes stories in any language from all corners of the world. **Storytelling nurtures intergenerational connections.** When older adults share stories about their life experiences with younger generations, studies have shown a reduction in levels of depression. As story creators, they enhance self-efficacy, maintain memory, and develop imagination and speech skills. In fact, neuroscientists suggest that storytelling can be as powerful as medication or therapy in addressing depression among older adults. As highlighted by researchers on intergenerational storytelling, people continue to share stories not because they are losing cognitive abilities, but because these stories hold significance and they believe we need to hear them. Narratives and developmental theory suggest that storytelling serves as a way to transfer values, leave a legacy, feel validated, and foster meaningful connections. At StoryKasa, our purpose is to provide a storytelling platform and tools for people to listen and be heard, enabling them to live life more fully. Join us in the joy of listening, narrating, sharing, and preserving stories!