About StoryBox

 

Developed by SLB Radio Productions, Inc., the StoryBox is an innovative digital platform for sharing the authentic voices of children and youth with the greater community, and for demonstrating to children and youth that their voices matter. SLB launched the StoryBox technology as an extension of its 35-year history of using radio and audio to connect, educate and empower children, youth, families and the community.

A one-of-a-kind storytelling vehicle—equal parts electronic device and work of art—each StoryBox features narrative audio recordings and original artwork created by area children and youth. The StoryBox unit itself is a 21” x 12” x 4” box that can be wall-mounted or placed on a table. The face of the device contains pictures with “hot spots” that are pressed to hear corresponding audio. For example, pictures of children can be pressed to hear an essay, poem, story, reflection, or narrative created by a participating child. StoryBox audio is recorded in SLB’s professional studios located in the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh or at schools, libraries and community sites using professional field equipment.

The project applies SLB’s expertise with children’s programming and with using radio and audio technologies to encourage, validate and share the voices, ideas and feelings of young people. In addition to inviting children and youth to create and record audio content and providing hands-on experience with state-of-the-art equipment, StoryBox technology also strengthens core social, emotional and academic skills, including: public speaking; critical and creative thinking; verbal expression; cooperative learning; sensory exploration; active listening; media literacy; and technical curiosity. Moreover, StoryBox units show children and youth that their voices, opinions and feelings are valued and help make certain that a broader audience of peers, teachers, mentors, families and the community at large hears them.

Bringing the authentic voices of young people into public educational and community settings, the SLB StoryBox has emerged as an innovative method for storytelling, community building, cultural dialogue, and peer-to-peer and intergenerational engagement. During the StoryBox production process, children and youth share their thoughts, ideas and feelings about a wide range of topics, issues, themes and questions. Some students discuss projects they complete in their schools and communities to help people in need or protect the environment, while others share stories and memories about their families, friends and pets, reflect on current events, discuss their opinions about concepts of love, friendship, respect, and community, or talk about their interests and hobbies.

Demonstrating our city’s reputation as a region that cares about its children and youth, StoryBoxes are permanently installed in schools, 18 Carnegie Library branches, the Senator John Heinz History Center, youth and community centers, the August Wilson Center for African-American Culture, and the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh. StoryBox audio is also broadcast on The Saturday Light Brigade, SLB’s long-running public radio program for children and families, heard by more than 60,000 families each week and simulcast to a network of radio stations serving Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, and Maryland as well as worldwide listeners via slbradio.org.

Popular attractions within community sites and schools, content and images from SLB’s StoryBoxes are also available for free download to worldwide audiences at neighborhoodvoices.org and provided on professional CDs. StoryBox projects at SLB have been supported in part by Spark, a program of The Sprout Fund. Spark is an initiative of The Sprout Fund, catalyzing projects and programs that engage children ages birth to 8 through the creative use of technology and media. Additional support for StoryBox projects at SLB has been provided by The Buhl Foundation.

While radio continues to be a powerful method to elicit and amplify the ideas and thoughts of children, SLB wanted to extend our work in a new way. We developed StoryBox technology as a way to bring authentic voices to community spaces via a simple, self-powered device that people love to explore. The public devices also help demonstrate to the community at large—and to children—that our region is serious about listening to its children.

– Larry Berger, executive director of SLB Radio Productions, Inc., and Host of The Saturday Light Brigade.

StoryBoxes are a great way for children to have their voices heard. Each StoryBox has a unique combination of stories gathered from children in a particular neighborhood. Children share their thoughts about schools and education, the importance of family and friends, their favorite sports and games, and why their community library is so important to them. Not only do children hear their own story, but they also hear what other kids in their neighborhoods are saying too.

– Georgene DeFilippo, Youth Services Coordinator, with Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh