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YA Shot Workshop Competition Winner

I hope you can see from my previous post that I am passionate about books and health and exploring how reading can develop you as a person. With all that in mind I decided to put forward a b/vlogging workshop proposal for YA Shot and… I won. So on 28th October I will be running the following.

Workshop Title

Fan Activism, Stories and B/Vlogging

Workshop Outline (as submitted)

Young Adult literature tackles important issues that are socially relevant. Stories have the power to influence change: attitudinal change, behavioural change and social change. The Harry Potter Alliance (HPA) captured the passion for the themes within the story of Harry Potter (since expanded to other stories and fandoms) and developed campaigns that have enacted change in readers’ own communities.

It is evident that b/vloggers are passionate individuals that are keen to express, and share their views with others. Making links between popular culture and real life issues on a blog or vlog is a great way to get started in social activism. Social Activists are future leaders and develop many transferable skills whilst organising campaigns. Empathy, organisation, critical review, communication and clarity of expression. All desirable to current and future employers.

Attendees at the workshop will explore a variety of blogs/vlogs that include elements of social activism – whether in one post, or as the aim of the b/vlog. They will also be challenged to make links between their own favourite stories and real life issues that they are passionate about and sketch out a blog/vlog outline that inspires change.

The workshop would be of particular interest to young adults, teachers, or librarians that might want to consider connecting people through the power of story (and perhaps organising their own HPA Chapter in their school, library, university or community). It will equally apply to those who wish to b/vlog independently and develop their ability to make links between the stories they read and the lives they lead.

Why Me

My name is Kirsty Stanley, I am 37 years old and I live in Poole, Dorset. I am an Occupational Therapist, a writer and a blogger. As well as running my own Chapter of the Harry Potter Alliance (HPA) I am also the UK/Ireland Chapter Liaison for the HPA, a fan activist charity.

I have recently undertaken writing workshop training through the LitUp! Programme locally and I am used to running groups with varying remits with a range of age groups. I have had 8 years experience lecturing (or facilitating learning as I prefer to call it). I am hugely passionate about (obsessed with) Harry Potter, YA literature, occupational therapy, mental health awareness, diversity and social justice.

I have blogged about social activism topics on behalf of my HPA chapter, Phoenix Rising and on my own blog.

I am working on a PhD called Why We Are Writers: Relationships and the Occupation of Creative Writing. I am also in the process of editing my first novel, so naturally am putting myself forward to help me in my editing/PhD procrastination.


My workshop outline has been expertly summarised on the YA Shot Programme page where you can find out about the rest of the programme and book tickets.

Hope to see you there.


Books and Health #YAShot Blog Tour

Today’s post is part of the blogtour for YA Shot which is a one-day Young Adult and Middle Grade festival taking place in Uxbridge on 28th October 2015.

With thanks to the wonderful Alexia Casale for letting me take part.

Books and Employability

As an Occupational Therapist (and previously a university lecturer) I was interested in looking at how bookish pursuits linked to future employability. I’ve since expanded the post slightly to not only consider how books link to health and social care careers, but also to how books impact on our health in general. I’m a writer and voracious reader so I should note my “potential” bias in raving abut how wonderful being involved with books is.

In Monday’s blog tour post by Rachel she talked about ‘doing books’ as a living. Of course, not all book lovers want to work with books, but, that doesn’t mean that we have to, or should leave books behind.

My job as an occupational therapist puts me into regular contact with people, and people come with their own stories. Being able to empathise (not sympathise) with someone else is a hugely important skill for health and social care professionals (doctors, social workers, physiotherapists, etc, etc) to develop.

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”
― Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

Healthcare as a whole is revisiting Humanisation as a model for practice. It is acknowledged that sometimes viewing someone through a medical lens can make it easy to forget the person behind the body parts. In Empathy: A Handbook for Revolution Roman Krznaric shows how we can develop empathy through engagement with stories, and check out this article about learning about slavery through fiction.

I often encouraged students to read fiction and use stories to make connections to theories they were learning, and also to explore the meaning of disability and diversity. I also encouraged creative expression through writing and students who engaged in these pursuits really enhanced their skills in reflective practice which is essential (in my view) for their future learning and development in practice.

Medical Humanities is an emerging field of study – one which the scientific booky people amongst you might like to contribute in the future.

Healthcare subjects are degree level qualifications. Rachel mentioned transferable skills in her blog post. Reading could help you develop your comprehension and writing skills (and hopefully increase your knowledge of spelling and grammar), blogging about books can help you develop critical thinking skills and your ability to express yourself verbally. Taking part in drama can give you the confidence when doing presentations or speaking out in a ward round.

Books can make you happy (even when you’re sobbing at them)

And how can reading help you look after your own health and wellbeing? Again, as an occupational therapist, I have a particular view that if reading is a meaningful occupation for you then inherently taking part in it will be health sustaining. What makes it meaningful may vary between individuals, reading may be a form of relaxation, a way to work through emotions, a way to learn or it may take you into a state of occupational flow where time flies by without you noticing it. Talking about books might be a good way for someone to begin being able to connect with other people too. For me personally I have used reading in times of anxiety to take me out of living in the past or worrying about the future to being in that story. In fact, my PhD is exploring why writers are writers, and I suspect reading will come into that somewhere!

This article discusses research by neuroscientists that show that reading can enhance cognition, memory and compassion as well as reducing stress and helping sleep

And supposedly Harry Potter readers are ‘better humans’ As a ginormous Harry Potter fan and member of the The Harry Potter Alliance – my bias may be showing again. But I’ve seen the HPA use the themes from Harry’s story to connect to real life and inspire social action.

Science and art are not mutually exclusive subjects so even if you want to do maths as a living still read – it’ll make all the numbers come alive.

If you have any comments or questions I’d love to hear from you.

In the meantime:


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