Searching this blog will lead you to the tools that are available to write life stories and why they’re important to share. In this blog, I’m going to share a little bit about what a Legacy Project is, how it can look different, and what you can do with it once it’s complete. Legacy Projects can be done individually, with a loved one, as a group, or implemented at a facility level. We'll cover a few of those scenarios below.
Personal Storytelling: Memory Collections
By my definition, memory collection in a Legacy Project is allowing everyone in the family, plus the extended family, friends, and anyone else who wants to contribute to write memories and share experiences about a specific person or event.
Let’s say you wanted to collect memories about your grandmother who has passed away. You want to collect her stories and memories others have about her. As a family, you decide what questions to ask, and then the call goes out to ask for submissions to those questions. That way, everyone is able to contribute to the memory collection.
You can also do a memory collection for family members who are still here with us. Perhaps as a 50th wedding anniversary or 90th birthday, when everyone is gathered, you can collect memories. And because that person is living, you can record her memories and get a first-person perspective in addition to the family’s thoughts and feelings.
Looking for guidance on getting started with a memory collection project? You can book a time here and get clarity.
Legacy Project in Long-term Care
In a long-term care facility, the Legacy Project can be used as an activity. It can be in addition to bingo or art as a layer on top of that, or it can be in place of those activities. Activity directors, aides, and staff can have this in their back pocket for residents to do without a whole lot of prep work or expensive materials.
In a residential situation, the Legacy Project can improve the quality of life for residents and staff as well as the work environment and culture of the entire facility. It changes the conversations between staff and residents and between the residents themselves. Suddenly, they’re talking about things so much deeper than they might have without the Legacy Project. They’re making connections, which is so important as we age.
A Legacy Project Example
One great example of how Legacy Projects and the Legacy Storytelling Method can be implemented is Dream Chasers. It’s sponsored by Don’t Stop Dreamin’, a nonprofit that is part of Quality Life Services in Western Pennsylvania. In the project, volunteers work one-on-one with residents in care facilities owned by Quality Life Services. These are usually university students paired with seniors.
This model was my dream three years ago in my basement. I wanted to be able to train others, encourage and support them to create relationships with the elderly to help them tell their stories. Over the years I've facilitated over a hundred storytelling sessions for residents, staff, and students. In addition, I created custom life storybooks created for the Dream Chaser participants. You can find the life story journal here. Feel free to use it in your own programs. Reach out directly for bulk ordering.
52 Weeks of Storytelling
The main idea is to have you write one page, each week. That way you can create 52 pages for a book that's never been written before all without feeling like you are writing a book!
This a great activity to use in care facilities and over Zoom for families during visiting hours. The structure of the 52 Weeks of Storytelling Series and free Youtube videos means that you don't have to invest in anything to launch the program in your facility.
Legacy Projects in Physical Form
Legacy projects can take on a variety of physical forms. Some people create books, others write poems, and still, others create art. Often a Legacy Project is simply a memory for a family when their loved one passes on. To help facilitate a physical memento of the process, journals are available to purchase, but any notebook or recording system will suffice.
Some families have chosen to create video recordings and audio recordings of their storytelling sessions. There are a variety of apps and platforms you can use to create a permanent Legacy Recording of someone's story.