The Power of Stories
We Engage 4 Health will be filled with stories…
- comic style stories told by a cast of neighborhood characters,
- photo stories told by citizen scientists participating in the project, and
- data stories based on community data collected in the project
It’s no surprise that people enjoy stories—we have been telling them for thousands of years! Not only do we enjoy stories, but we remember them much more easily than things like lists of facts.
Modern research into how our brains work clues us in to why stories are both pleasurable and powerful! Scientists know that using language (talking or reading) activates Wernicke’s area of the brain where words are processed. That happens no matter what kind of reading or conversation is going on.
But… when listening to or reading a story, many other parts of the brain are activated, depending on events and descriptions in the story. The brain responds to story events as if they are actually happening to the reader or listener! You can read more about this effect in the article “The Science of Storytelling: Why Telling a Story is the Most Powerful Way to Activate Our Brains.”
Another cool effect of stories is that character-driven stories with emotional content prompt the brain to make more of a chemical called oxytocin. Oxytocin boosts the empathy and motivation of listeners. You can read more about this effect in the article “Your Brain On Stories.”
What's a comic style story?
- People have been using drawings to communicate ideas for thousands of years, but the combination of drawings are words we call a comic book or graphic novel first became popular in the USA with the superhero comics of the 1930’s.
- While many people in the USA think of comic or graphic style stories as something just for kids, in other countries, especially Japan, this style of story has always been available for every age and in every genre.
- The comic or graphic style story is perfect for sharing health information with a wide audience because graphic stories can present complex material with engaging graphics and readable text. Learn about using comics for teaching and learning in Stephen Cary’s Going Graphic: Comics at Work in the Multilingual Classroom.
- For We Engage 4 Health, community members in Cincinnati’s West End developed a cast of neighborhood characters to tell health stories for the project. This cast of characters will continue to develop as new communities become active in the project and have a chance to add characters of their own.
Start with a story
Read Our Stories
Pops, Miss Georgia, Vito, Jazzy, Cardi, and Big Sam have stories to share! Check some of them out here!