Storytelling inspires empathy and changes minds.

It is key to advancing social change and creating equitable societies.

Inequity in healthcare

Healthcare workers on the frontlines must be able to speak up for their patients’ needs—as well as their own. However, many lack the storytelling abilities they need to demand equitable treatment and change policies in their disenfranchised communities.

The Spark

Three Atlantic Fellows—Rose Mary Nakame, Juanita Wheeler and Elena Rivera—formed the Empowering Disenfranchised Communities with Storytelling group to develop an effective toolkit for health workers at the front line of COVID-19, many of whom don’t have the means to advocate for themselves or their patients.
"As a champion of storytelling for advocacy, the Atlantic Institute Solidarity Grant provided me with the opportunity to collaborate with two other Fellows, on different continents, who were also using storytelling to advocate for the communities they serve. Our collective insights, skills, and experiences have combined, allowing us to develop more robust and inclusive toolkits tailored for specific advocacy areas."

Juanita Wheeler,
Atlantic Fellow for Social Equity

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Call to Action

Designed to enfranchise health workers serving the most marginalized communities during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Storytelling Project harnessed the expertise of a number of individuals and organizations in Uganda, Australia and the United States. The Atlantic Institute funding enabled the training of 37 Ugandan frontline healthcare workers, ten US grassroots advocates, and eight Atlantic Fellows on Storytelling for Advocacy.

See the action in action

Click on the interactive map to see how our Fellows collaborate
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Uganda 2nd Project
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Meet our Fellows

Get to know the Fellows

Juanita Wheeler

Founder & Strategist

Rose Mary Nakame

Executive Director/Founder

Elena Rivera

Senior Health Policy and Program Advisor

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The Initiatives

  • To develop a storytelling for advocacy toolkit highlighting best practices and case studies of what works across disenfranchised communities in the U.S., Uganda, Africa and Australia.
  • To train and build capacity among 30 grassroots community health workers and advocates on the best practices of using storytelling for advocacy.
  • To train and build capacity of Atlantic Fellows (Goal: minimum of two Fellows per program)
  • To provide mentorship to the 30 grassroots community health workers utilizing storytelling for advocacy.
  • To create three toolkits: one for frontline health workers, one for grassroots community advocates, and one for Atlantic Fellows.
Workshop with topics including:
  • Introduction to storytelling
  • The purpose of storytelling
  • Identifying a target audience
  • Examples of how storytelling works in different settings
  • An introduction to and importance of advocacy
  • A guide to successful advocacy
  • Managing the risks associated with storytelling while measuring impact
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The Scale

In October 2020, the host organization Rural Elites Mentorship Initiative (REMI) East Africa trained 37 rural health workers on the frontlines of COVID-19 in Uganda, providing a storytelling toolkit as well as digital literacy training. These initiatives led to a partnership with SEED Global Health and Critical Care Nurses Association, Uganda, to further address knowledge gaps.

In the United States, Atlantic Fellow for Health Equity US + Global, Elena Rivera, led the storytelling for advocacy training for ten grassroots community advocates. The session included insights and examples of advocacy and storytelling from Uganda, the United States and Australia. Participants shared a wide range of advocacy issues, including housing, health care, immigrant rights, nursing, families experiencing disability, child care, and resource navigation.

The Future

Training of Atlantic Fellows in storytelling advocacy will take place in September 2021 and will be led by Atlantic Fellow for Social Equity, Juanita Wheeler. The Atlantic Institute funding enabled the team of Fellows to gain the trust of health workers while a number of institutions, including PATH and AMREF Advocacy Accelerator, reached out to learn best new practices for advocacy during the pandemic.

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