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Inaugural Unicoi County Hospital junior board of directors helps community tell stories through time capsule

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Inaugural Unicoi County Hospital junior board of directors helps community tell stories through time capsule

The time capsule has been sealed and will be placed inside the hospital for 25 years. 

Today, a special time capsule – created by the hospital’s inaugural junior board of directors – was sealed and will be placed inside the hospital for the next 25 years. The junior board is comprised of students from Unicoi County Middle School. Its members range from sixth through eighth grade and were hand-picked by teachers at Unicoi County Middle School for having good grades, showing exemplary behavior and possessing strong leadership skills.

The kids – with guidance from the International Storytelling Center – spent the past few months gathering the stories and tales of community members to place inside the time capsule. They distributed drop-off boxes throughout the Unicoi County community for locals to donate relics of the past and their own handwritten stories. The time capsule is part of the junior board’s annual project.

“I am so excited about this project, and I know the kids are too,” said Eric Carroll, administrator of Unicoi County Hospital. “The hospital’s junior board has worked extremely hard on this, and I couldn’t be more proud of them. Their contribution will live on in our community for decades.”

A large wooden box, handmade by the father of junior board member Audie Brown, serves as the time capsule and will contain a scrapbook of newspaper clippings, photographs, artifacts from the old hospital and—most importantly—stories. The time capsule will be sealed inside a display case in the lobby of the Unicoi County Hospital for 25 years.

Norah Ray, a sixth-grader at the middle school, said the junior board wants this project “to allow future generations to look into the past and make connections to things in their life.”

Seventh-grader Brian Hughes said, “Storytelling can help the hospital learn more about the community. Storytelling can help people heal.”

The junior board is part of Unicoi County Hospital’s partnership with the International Storytelling Center. The collaboration is a first-of-its-kind between an arts organization and a health system working together to find new ways to serve patients and promote healthy habits across communities.

The partnership involves multiple projects, including the establishment of a junior board to encourage input from local youth. Each year, the junior board will complete a project to benefit both the hospital and the community, and it will be challenged to listen to the needs of the community and consider creative ways to address them. The current board members are Faith Bennett, Audie Brown, Seth Hopson, Brian Hughes, Norah Ray and Makena Riebe.

Their monthly meeting agenda involves discussing community engagement, time management and project development. They have also practiced interviewing skills in order to collect narratives from Unicoi County residents. Sixth-grade junior board member Audie Brown said that he has learned how to approach people and listen to their stories. While this has pushed him out of his comfort zone, he said it’s “allowed for interactions with people that were truly life-changing.”

As classes graduate and new members join, interested students will follow an application and interview process conducted by the school, Unicoi County Hospital, Ballad Health and current junior board members.

Unicoi County Hospital is also working toward an International Storytelling Center Site of Excellence designation, an honor earned by organizations that incorporate storytelling into their core missions, planning, training programs, programming and community outreach. The designation also certifies that Unicoi County Hospital has created a sustainable storytelling culture, one that can be perpetuated through multiple generations.

Follow the junior board’s activity on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at #UnicoiJrBoard.

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