Digital Stories for Healthier Communities

In addition to working in fitness, I’ve also done a lot of work in interactive content development, and have a special passion for digital storytelling. Digital stories are short (~3 minutes) documentaries of the storyteller’s personal experiences. Unlike slick, mass-produced media, these are created by people who don’t have formal media production skills. They are written in the person’s own voice, produced with their own photos and video, and use free or cheap software to assemble the final product. They often focus on a problem or transformation in the person’s life. This kind of media can be profoundly moving. We’re so used to the high production values of TV and the Web that the rawness, simplicity and the maker’s unique voice are stunning. I have facilitated weekend workshops where these videos are created–I love to see a new batch of them being born.

The reason I’m telling you about this is that today is the launch of an exciting project that combines health and fitness with digital storytelling. Some friends of mine who teach digital storytelling have partnered with another friend at King County Department of Public Health (the Let’s Do This campaign) to create a site called Mapping Our Voices for Equality. It’s a collection of digital stories and other resources that show health disparities and advocate for health equality–things like availability of healthy food and drink options in low-income neighborhood stores and accessible, affordable community fitness programs.

The stories come from around Seattle from people of all kinds of backgrounds. One I loved watching is Why I Do What I Do by Levonne Abshire who is in charge of fitness programs at my local YMCA. She tells the story of getting turned on to fitness having been an unfit and overweight teen.

Hope you check out the site, watch some stories and get involved in increasing health options in all communities.

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