Today we'd like to share with you another special moment from the past year. Meet Bella, a seven-year-old girl with autism who is an extraordinary storyteller. She doesn't write or speak, but communicates with a letter board, pointing out the letters one at a time. She came to the Sydney Story Factory because she wanted "to improve her plots."
She was interested in our after-school class, Start your story with a BOOM! However, she isn't comfortable being around large groups of kids, so our volunteer manager, Craig, worked with her one-on-one.
Bella loved working with him and the story she wrote was amazing: an extract is below. We were also thrilled when she joined the rest of the class on the last day, as all the students read out part of their stories. Bella was nervous, but she held Craig's hand as he walked to the front of the class and read the piece for her.
When he finished, none of the students clapped. We'd talked to them beforehand, and they knew Bella didn't like loud noise. So they called out "That was awesome!" and "Well done Bella!" and "Great work!" It was a real community moment, watching children from a wide range of backgrounds work beautifully together.
We asked Bella to describe what she'd been doing at the Sydney Story Factory; what she liked best; and what she'd like to say to you, our generous supporters and volunteers. Without any prompting this is what she said. Click here to watch.
Extract from Bella's story, "The Lone Lying Treasure."
Yesterday's homework was exciting enough so I decided to venture into the science laboratory. It was a sunny morning as I walked from the bus terminal to the laboratory. My heart was thumping as I rushed through the overwhelming rush of people. I was relieved to make it through the crowd without calling attention to my awkward body.
I could not wait till I was at the laboratory so I could rest my eyes from the glare of the sun. Like all labs it had a weird aroma. Detergent mixed with acid got into my senses. I dropped my bag to cover my nose, then the door flung open. He insisted I open the window.
It was a friendly helper. Dr Spock the scientist was an energetic, fast paced, helpful, excitable man. He looked messy with an unshaven face and dirty looking clothes. Though he appeared like he was very unorganised, he was a wealthy man with no family to love.
Thanks to all of you for making moments like this with Bella possible.
With best Martian wishes,
Cath Keenan and the staff and board of the Sydney Story Factory.