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Storytelling Services

Youth Storytelling & Writing Programs

Building kids’ confidence, creativity and literacy through storytelling.

Word Up and Write Up are Centre for Stories’ signature youth oral storytelling and creative writing programs, respectively. These programs are generously supported by the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries and our Story Supporters donors.

We believe that storytelling empowers young people to be the best versions of themselves. Our workshops in schools are designed to support young people to improve literacy, build confidence, and embrace creativity. We do this by providing young people with the skills and platform to share true stories about who they are and what matters to them.

We work primarily with young people aged 12-18 from under-resourced communities and culturally and linguistically diverse (CaLD) backgrounds.

Claudia Mancini Jay Anderson and Sisonke Msimang with Aranmore Catholic College students
Photo: Aranmore Catholic College students at Centre for Stories after sharing their stories to a live audience in 2021. Photo by Logan Griffiths.
What is the difference between Word Up and Write Up?

Word Up is our spoken word, oral storytelling program. While you can choose either program, we recommend that new schools begin with Word Up as a great way to introduce storytelling in a fun and accessible way – no matter where the students are at with their literacy, we can all become great oral storytellers. Spoken word storytelling has also been proven to support students’ writing and is the perfect option to ease students into the next stage of literacy. The focus of Word Up is sharing true, lived experiences – a form of spoken memoir. Our practice is trauma-informed and we encourage students to tell surprising stories that they feel comfortable sharing.

Write Up is our creative writing program. Like its sister program, students are taught over 10-weeks about different forms of writing, such as poetry, prose, memoir, flash fiction, and more. We focus on learning from writers from Asia and with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds. The program is built to support WA’s cross-curriculum priorities. The resources we use are incredibly diverse and we aim to reflect the students’ own experiences back at them, while increasing their empathy and curiosity about the world around them.

Who can participate in the program?

We work with high schools, youth groups and community programs to deliver Word Up and Write Up to specific groups of young people. We have worked with young people through Intensive English Centres, leadership programs, creative arts programs, CARE schools, after-school extracurricular programs, and remote education.

Previous schools and youth centres we’ve provided story training for include:

What do the programs look like?

Both the Word Up and Write Up programs are designed as ten weekly, 50-minute workshops. Less than 25 participants per group is preferable. This is to ensure that every young person has the opportunity to work directly with the facilitator and develop their story.

The ten workshops take participants through Centre for Stories’ storytelling methodology for Word Up, or the creative writing program for Write Up. This is our framework for understanding how to most effectively share oral stories or creative writing, and the foundational theory that supports and aligns with school curriculum objectives. We have developed a suite of short animations to help illustrate this content, which are used throughout the workshops. For Word Up, we also have a collection of video stories from other young storytellers that are used as references. For Write Up, we bring in diverse published authors to inspire the students and show them what is possible in a writing career.

Alongside the theoretical content, participants are guided through a series of exercises to transform their real-life experiences into structured and impactful stories. Over the ten weeks, the aim for Word Up is for each young person to craft one personal experience into a considered and thoughtful oral story that they can share with others. The key outcome of Write Up is that each student has a short piece of poetry or prose published.

Whether spoken or written, we collate all students’ stories into written forms and publish them in a print anthology – something the students can hold onto forever so they can feel proud of to be acknowledged as published authors. Examples of previous print anthologies we have published with students include We Know Who We Are, Life Is Beautiful & Other Stories, and Seventeen Daydreams.

What kind of stories do our kids share?

For Word Up, young people are encouraged to share a true, first-person story. That is, something that really happened to them – not their mum or their dad, a sibling or a friend. We aren’t looking necessarily for big and dramatic stories. Instead, we want everyday, relatable stories about something wonderful, surprising or memorable that happened. We work on the principle of telling stories from our scars, not our wounds, and use strength-based prompts to help participants choose a story.

See an example of a former Word Up student’s story below. Sumaya originally shared a light-hearted story about a fun day in school. However she later used the skills we taught her to share a very different story about her experiencing fleeing to Australia.

Testimonials from past participants

  • Thanks for being here with us! We enjoyed having a new concept to learning English, and all that you brought with it. We loved how you came with a great mind to teach us and how much we learnt during the process! – Anonymous student, Yule Brook Independent College
  • When I started I was so nervous and shy to stand in front of people and talk but when Centre for Stories people came and taught us how to speak, I got confident so now I can talk in front of anyone. – Anonymous student, Aranmore Catholic College
  • The classroom radiated with so much joy, laughter, and curiosity when you taught. You pushed them just enough whilst taking care of their feelings and encouraging them to explore their creativity. You nurtured them while they developed wings to soar confidently in their writing. I am forever grateful. – Adeline Nair, Year 9/10 English Teacher, Yule Brook Independent College
  • The program demonstrates that the students’ voices are valid and that people want to hear their stories. I enjoyed seeing some of their strengths that I hadn’t been able to get from them during the year. – Annie, Teacher at Aranmore Catholic College

How to work with us


Our facilitators are specially trained to deliver the program. They are knowledgeable in Centre for Stories’ storytelling methodology (and are often working writers themselves) and use trauma-informed principles for working with young people. Our trainers come from a variety of professional backgrounds, and include social workers, counsellors, youth workers, performers, and of course, writers. Our goal is to match the perfect facilitator to the school and the students needs.

Program cost

Program cost is calculated based on the number of participants, the host organisation’s financial capacity, and the level of support required. Please get in touch for a customised quote, and to discuss further the possibility of delivering Word Up in your community.

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Write Up anthologies

Life Is Beautiful & Other Stories

Life Is Beautiful & Other Stories is a collection of writing from students made in partnership with Edmund Rice Centre. Together, we ran three Write Up workshops for their students in Butler, Lynwood and Ellenbrook, who are mostly of refugee, migrant and Indigenous Australian backgrounds. These are their stories.

Learn more
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