The holiday season is upon us, bringing with it family outgings and get togethers and the perfect time for family to reconnect, share old memories, and make new ones.  Its great when the whole family gets together, but in all of the hubbub, kids and older relatives sometimes miss out on the chance to really connect in one afternoon.  Maybe they just need a little nudge.

 

An organization called The Legacy Project would like to encourage kids to listen to the life stories of a grandparent or grandfriend this holiday season. Kids can not only gain an appreciation for their relatives, they can also enter for a chance to win a computer and $25,000 of educational products through the Legacy Project's 12th annual Listen to a Life Essay Contest. 

 

To enter the Listen to a Life Contest, kids 8-18 years interview a grandparent or grandfriend 50 years or older about the older person's hopes and goals through their life, how they achieved their goals and overcame obstacles, or key life experiences. Kids then write a 300-word essay based on the interview.

 

The Legacy Project also has some good tips to pass along on how to make the interview go smoothly:

 

  • Choose a quiet time, like after a family dinner, when there aren't a lot of distractions. Turn disruptive technologies like smart phones and TVs off. Listening without interruption shows respect.
  • Record the interview or take notes so that you get all the details and can review them later.
  • Use open-ended questions like "What was it like when...?" and "Describe...".
  • As you listen to answers, other questions will come to mind.
  • Asking follow-up questions will help you get more information.
  • Use memory triggers like old photographs and keepsakes.
  • Listen attentively and don't interrupt or correct. Maintain eye contact and show interest by leaning forward and nodding.
  • If someone is talking about a painful or unhappy experience, show empathy through comments like, "That's very sad." Accept emotion as part of the process.
  • If a person doesn't want to talk about something, that's okay -- just go to the next question.
  • An interview shouldn't last more than an hour. People do best when they're not tired. You can always do another interview.
  • Don't forget to thank the person you've interviewed. They've been generous with their time and perhaps shared personal information. Let them know you value what they've shared. Write them a short thank you note later, and even send a copy of the interview (for corrections and additions).

This year's Listen to a Life Contest ends March 30, 2012. For complete info, head over to The Legacy Project

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