The word creativity has become synonymous with Disney. From our award-winning films to new experiences in our theme parks and resorts, creativity is a skill we value and in which we invest. One focus of our philanthropy is nurturing creative thinking skills in kids through imagination, play and storytelling.
Last week, I got a chance to chat with Bill Thompson, executive director of Young Storytellers Foundation (YSF) to hear more about the nonprofit and how Disney’s investment is helping students tell their stories in interesting and exciting ways.
How does the YSF inspire creativity?
YSF provides mentors who help underserved kids write screenplays that are brought to life through performances by older students and professional actors, including Disney talent. Mentors work at the students’ pace – a story could be three pages, it could be ten pages – to make sure key story elements are there while students create the actual characters and their worlds. Our goal is to help students, from elementary school to high school, develop an affinity for the arts. Our other programs include film production, a speaker series and storytelling workshops.
How does Disney help support your mission?
When I think about families and storytelling, the first brand that comes to mind is Disney, and I can’t help but think about how well Disney’s values align with ours. One of our recent programs took place at Walt Disney Elementary School with help from a Disney grant. In addition to the funding, all of the mentors were Disney employees. It makes an incredible impact to a 10-year-old when someone from Disney takes time to help them tell their story – the same way they might sit down to work on a new film. Disney Channel talent even joined our student actors to perform the screenplays.
Why is it important to inspire young people to think creatively?
Creative thinking is becoming increasingly important in the job market – it’s the future. The tradition of oral storytelling is also part of who we are – a core fiber. Our slogan is, “Every Child Has a Story Worth Telling.” Disney’s support sends a message that every child truly does have a story worth telling.