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Sean Leston: Facilitator and Parternships Associate at PLUS ME Project

PLUS ME Project is bringing the power of storytelling to kids in the classroom. Their various workshops give students the tools they need to be confident storytellers. By combining elements of public speaking, writing, and reflection, PLUS ME Project’s work helps kids know the value of their personal story. Sean started of working in the classroom part-time with the students, and eventually transitioned to a full-time role to help the organization live out it’s mission.

Can you tell me about the connection between storytelling and confidence in kids?

In life, it’s easy for people to go on autopilot and fall into routine. Personal storytelling forces you to get in the driver’s seat and unpack things that have happened to you and how you’ve been affected by them. For some kids, storytelling is the first time they’ve faced that. Once you’re equipped with the information of how you have been affected by your past, you can make better choices going forward. Storytelling is a matter of agency, it’s taking control over your experiences. That agency is what leads to confidence. You are confident in who you are, what you’ve been through, and who you want to be.

What skills are you helping kids attain through your programs?

We have so mant different workshops. There are guest speakers who go into classrooms to serve as relatable role models for the kids, there are writers workshops, and storytelling workshops. The workshops are designed to teach kids in grades 6-12 how to share their own stories. This is especially important for our older students who are applying to college, because it can be hard to come across as authentic in college application essays. Our motto is “your story matters”. A lot of kids are skeptical at first and don’t think they have a story to tell, but by the end they are proudly sharing their accomplishments, struggles, and lessons learned.

What does a successful graduate of the PLUS ME program look like?

A successful graduate walks away believing that their story matters. They have experience under their belt of being vulnerable, courageous, and using their voice. They feel equipped speaking up in future opportunities, whether it’s in a classroom or a job. They’ll always have an answer when asked about themselves and they feel comfortable getting personal. Most importantly, they know that they have a place in the world and that they have a say in where their story goes.

What is your favorite part of your job?

I feel so blessed to work with such an amazing team. Working alongside other people who truly believe in our mission of bringing storytelling to youth is really powerful– it keeps me going. Our organization started because our founder felt like he didn’t have any relatable role models growing up and wanted to be that figure for younger kids. It feels great to be in a classroom, being that person for someone. The students love hearing stories from us and ask so many questions, it’s really great to be a part of.


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