The Tell Me A Story Service Project Series
Memphis Challenge, spanning close to three decades of inspiring and developing future Memphis leaders, has a tradition of raising awareness. Over the past six years, Memphis Challenge students have used their stories, their voices, and their hearts to tell impactful narratives that reflect their own communities.
Tell Me a Story: Service Through Storytelling
There is power in the telling of a good story. Through the project, Tell Me a Story: Service Through Storytelling. Challengers in grades 9-12 created eight storybooks and an anthology of poems inspired by the National Day of Service and wanting to leave a lasting impact that would build character in youth. Today, these students are published authors and host readings and discussions for children throughout the city. The project aimed to bring smiles, excitement and love of storytelling to children, as well as enrich the process of using creativity to give back for Memphis Challenge students. The Memphis Challenge story collection includes eight children’s paperback books and an anthology of poems for teens. For questions or to schedule a reading, contact Avery Cunningham at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tell Me A Story: Giving Voice To the Voiceless
In 2017, it was through film: Tell Me A Story: Giving Voice To the Voiceless. Challengers created three short films, two PSAs, and two podcasts about the struggles the youth and children of Memphis face every day. Two of those films were screened last September at the Youth Indie Memphis Film Festival alongside youth short films from Memphis and abroad.
Tell Me A Story: The Courage of Creativity
In 2018, it is through art and prose that Memphis Challenge students have raised awareness and inspired others through creativity. Tell Me A Story: The Courage of Creativity is the third installment of the Tell Me A Story service project series. For this project, students created four Zines, which are grassroots, independent publications showcasing prose and art, in the same vein as a journal or a magazine. In honor of the MLK50 milestone, each Zine has a social justice issue as its theme, highlighting the struggles of the past and the hopes of the future.
The artist Henri Mattise said that creativity takes courage. Just as courage is required to be creative, courage is required to defend and advocate on behalf of others. Honoring one of history’s most profound social justice advocates, students will use this project to define that courage and express the beauty, the pain, and the triumph of fighting for what is right.
In 2019, we see our students as the hands that will revolutionize their communities, embrace their narrative, and envision their world at its best and brightest, while also paying homage to the trailblazing hands of those before them.
Tell Me A Story: One Hand, A Thousand Words is the fourth installment of the Tell Me A Story service project series. For this project, Challengers will create physical manifestations of their hopes for the future, and their identity as a Memphis Challenger, in the form of plaster moldings of their own hands. These sculptures will be embellished with artistic representations of their views on community, heritage, and the heights of their own goals.
This project will culminate in an exhibition of the student work, accompanied by prosaic and poetic descriptions of the meaning behind their creations and their ability to turn the creative into the reflective.
Nelson Mandela said it best: “It is in your hands to make our world a better one for all.” This quote is the essence of what the Memphis Challenge is, and will continue to be. We’re inspiring and developing future Memphis leaders not for one, or for a few, but for the growth of all Memphians. In the midst of our 30th Anniversary, this project will represent 30 years of successful realization of that mission and spearhead 30 more.
In 2020, Challengers created two short films hitting on topics children of Memphis face every day such as cyberbullying/ abuse and navigating life in the midst of the ever evolving Covid-19.
The voice of youth is the voice of change.
Tell Me A Story: Facing the Change is the fifth installment of the Tell Me A Story service project series. For this project, Challengers created two short films hitting on topics children of Memphis face every day such as cyberbullying/ abuse and navigating life in the midst of the ever evolving Covid-19.
Memphis Challenge’s mission is to inspire and develop future Memphis leaders, and we wish to give our future leaders a platform to use their voices to share, reflect, and create a space of healing in their communities.
James Baldwin said, “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” Tell Me A Story: Facing the Change — Memphis Challenge’s 2020 Tell Me A Story project — is a creative opportunity for Memphis Challengers to face the joys, pains, struggles, and triumphs of their world; not only to bring about positive change but also to bring about an enduring sense of hope.
Due to COVID-19, Memphis Challengers were forced to pivot and make what would have been a live, mixed-media event using music, theater, dance, art, and spoken word to explore the impact of profound themes such as Family, Education, Privilege, and Relationships. A 2 scene virtual performance.
Tell Me A Story: Covid Mask/Survey Project
Tell Me A Story: Covid Mask/Survey Project is the sixth installment of the Tell Me A Story service project series. For this project, challengers looked to address the impact of COVID-19 on the Youth of Memphis and Shelby County through survey collection and the distribution of student-designed masks.
To help mitigate the negative consequences of the pandemic, Memphis Challenge collaborated with Henry Mask, Inc. to produce 5,000 student-designed face masks to combat the spread of COVID-19.
The black-owned mask company, run by designer Patrick Henry, is headquartered in Los Angeles, California, and has Memphis roots.
Through the implementation of the Tell Me A Story service project, challengers educated youth on recognizing the signs and symptoms of COVID-19, knowing appropriate measures for preventing the spread of COVID-19 (e.g., masking up, social distancing, handwashing, etc.), and testing and mental health care.
Tell Me A Story: Navigating the New Abnormal
Tell Me A Story: Navigating the New Abnormal is the 7th learning journey that Challengers have designed, created, produced, and/or written. This multimedia presentation incorporates video and multimedia genres in order to amplify the voices of Memphis Challengers and illustrate their journey through the COVID pandemic. This year’s TMAS project was made possible when 11 students opened up and shared how their art has helped them navigate the new abnormal.
Past TMAS projects have ranged from children’s storybooks, to film, digital zines, hand carved sculptures, a COVID video, and face mask created in conjunction with a Hollywood-based designer.
Dear Challengers and Friends of Challenge, we invite you to come take in the words, wisdom, and vibes shared through: “Tell Me A Story: Navigating the New Abnormal.”