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Every picture tells a story

Every picture tells a story

Every picture tells a story

23 September 2021

NSW/ACT Adults Ministry Secretary Fay Foster knows how a photograph can spark memories and lead to conversation.

By Faye Michelson

What do you think about when you see a picture of a sky streaked with pink as the sun rises? What springs to mind if you come across a photograph of a child holding a Bible or a man fishing on a deserted beach?

Images like these can spark powerful memories. A photo of a sleeping baby can remind us of our own children, while one of an old VW Beetle can prompt nostalgic recollections of our first bomb of a car.

Stirring memories is the concept behind the Mission Resources Picture Prompts pack. Fay Foster, NSW/ACT Adults Ministry Secretary, said the newly-developed resource aims to provide chaplains – and others – with a way to encourage meaningful conversations.

“Last December, Claire Hill from the Mission Resources team contacted me. She’d been talking to Area Officer Major Beth Twivey and some aged care chaplains who had identified limitations with the conversation resources they were using,” Fay said.

Something fresh and more appropriate to the experience of current residents was needed. The chaplains wanted resources that would spark authentic conversations and promote laughter, fun, joy, and care.

The Picture Prompts pack comprises 60 A4 cards, divided into 12 sets of five, according to a theme. Each card has an image on one side, with a number on the reverse side to indicate its category – animals, art and music, celebrations, childhood, food, home, nature and outdoors, pastimes, people, spiritual, structures and travel. Each pack also contains an instruction card for the facilitator.

Images were carefully chosen to represent a wide range of subjects. They also had to be visually clear and images most people could relate to.

“Finally, we wanted images that would help participants tap into their emotional or spiritual experiences, that would encourage them to think of and share the things that impacted their personal and faith development,” Fay said.

“We took our images from websites that provide photographs that can be used for no cost. I had the pleasure of searching for suitable images; there were hundreds, but with the help of Claire and the chaplains, we came up with our top 60.”

The resource is designed to be used with a facilitator, who chooses the cards and lays them out for participants to look at.

“Then the facilitator might ask, ‘Choose a picture that reminds you of a happy time’, or ‘Which picture says something about how you think of God?’” Fay said.

“The hope is that each participant will share why they chose their image, and this sharing will be the starting point for further conversation. The main value of the cards, I think,
is that they tap into participants’ experiences, to their memories and the feelings associated with those memories.

“Each person has something to tell and share. The cards are prompts to start conversations, and for people to find out what they have in common with others, as well as learn about different thoughts and experiences.”

While the Picture Prompts pack was designed primarily with aged care residents in mind, Fay says it could be used in other discussion situations, such as conferences, recovery ministries and small groups.

Professionally printed packs were given to aged care chaplains across the territory. They can also be downloaded at no cost from the MySalvos Toolkit for people to print themselves.

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