Story Massage adds an extra dimension to Story Time sessions at local libraries. We talk to Alison Sellers, a Relax Kids coach and winner of our Best Practice Award, about the fun and interaction of her Story Massage sessions in branch libraries in two authorities – Wokingham Borough Council and Bracknell Forest Borough Council.
When Alison Sellers first trained in Story Massage in April 2017 she had lots of ideas for using her new skills. These included sharing Story Massage within her regular Relax Kids Wokingham Areas classes and as part of a special bedtime routine for her son. But her real passion was to share it within the community as her local library… and this has proved very successful.
“Library sessions are a way that everyone can access the benefits of positive touch,” she says, “It is so helpful at home with my own son and with groups in schools that I want to share Story Massage with as many people as possible. I love seeing the enjoyment and calmness that Story Massage brings to children and babies, and also their parents and grandparents.”
Approaching Local Libraries
Alison began by contacting her local library in Bracknell where she ran her first Story Massage session. Feedback was so positive that the Community Services Librarian asked her to do the same at another branch. And before long, the Reader Development Officer for Young People and Families at Wokingham Borough Council was in touch asking her to share Story Massage at three branch libraries!
“Story Massage is an excellent part of well-being initiatives in libraries,” says Alison, It is so wonderful that every can join in – whatever age of ability. Recently we had three generations sharing Story Massage. And that Dads can get involved too. Sometimes they are a bit hesitant at first but it is amazing how people respond once they start massaging each other. The whole atmosphere changes to one of calmness and connection. Then they get excited about taking it home to share with their other children and grandchildren too.”
Respectful and Positive Touch
Alison’s sessions usually last about 30 minutes and there is a nominal charge. She begins by introducing herself and explaining what Story Massage is, the importance of respecting one another, asking permission and thanking your partner. “It is so important that Story Massage is a comfortable and positive experience for everyone involved,” she says, “I always tell parents about the Story Massage book and website for further information.”
Then Alison demonstrates the ten Story Massage strokes and she encourages the group to practice them in the air or with a partner. “I always begin and end with a ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’ massage but tailor the session to the age and needs of the children in the group. Every session is so different. And every library has a different approach. Some want sessions in the day, others at weekends or after school. You never know who is going to turn up – and that is the beauty of it. Story Massage offers the flexiblity to adapt to suit everyone. It feels very special.”
Choice of Massage Stories for All Ages
Alison finds it invaluable to have a selection of different massages to hand so she can be ready for any situation. “I have a folder divided in to sections, e.g. nursery rhymes, fun rhymes, traditional tales, themes etc. I find that stories about routines are always popular with parents, especially for bathtime and bedtime,” she says, ” Some of the massage stories in my folder are adapted from familiar stories, books or songs. Here is one that is a favourite.”
As Alison has discovered some younger children love singing with the massage stories so she brings some music with her just in case. Some children prefer longer stories and some like lots of shorter rhymes and stories. Older children seem to enjoy the traditional tales from the Story Massage book, such as St.George and the Dragon. “The children will let you know what they like – so I just go with it!” she says, “And it is the same with positioning. Some groups like to work in pairs or threes. Others might enjoy sitting in a circle or line. My advice to anyone wanting to share Story Massage in libraries is just to relax and enjoy it!”
International Day of Happiness
Story Massage is perfect for celebrating events – and Alison enjoyed sharing massage stories on a happiness theme at the library. She made props and created massage stories all about happiness. “It gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling seeing the way that families enjoy sharing the joy of stories and nursery rhymes with each other,” she says, “Their faces are always smiling! It is such a great opportunity to share the benefits of positive touch with people who might otherwise never get the chance to know how good it feels. I have lots more ideas for special themed story time sessions at local libraries too!
Alison has also made her own bookmarks to take away after the sessions. “It’s a good prompt to be able to share the massages with their family and friends. And it may create the spark for the child to create their own massage stories,” she says.
More about Story Massage
Story Massage combines the benefits of positive, respectful touch with the creativity and engagement of storytelling making it suitable for all ages and abilities. Ten simple massage strokes form the basis of the Story Massage programme. These strokes have a simple name, such as The Circle or The Sprinkle, and an easy to recognise symbol. No clothing is removed and no oil is used. Stories can be taken from our Story Massage book, adapted from favourite stories or songs. Or you can work together to create your own stories.
Would you like to train in Story Massage?
Are you inspired by the way that Alison is running Story Massage sessions in local libraries? Would you like to train to use Story Massage in your work or home? We run one day accredited training courses held around the country for individuals and groups. These days can also be organised as in-house training sessions. And we now have a popular online training option.