Document family history with free writing workshop

Family stories are gifts from one generation to the next. 

Those stories can be kept alive with a little help from the Life’s Moments: From Memory to Legacy writing workshop, which is scheduled to begin May 5.

A University of Illinois Extension Family Life team will help participants document their life story with writing prompts, exercises to trigger memories and breakout sessions.

“It’s kind of like a quilt,” said Chelsey Byers, an Extension family life educator and workshop presenter. “By the end of the series, you will have a bunch of quilt pieces done and lots of ideas to continue writing.”

While people are practicing physical distancing during the COVID-19 outbreak, sharing stories can keep families connected, says Byers. 

Technology makes historical information available with the click of a button, but many adults don’t know their own family history.

“A lot of times people don’t know who their parents were before they came into the picture,” Byers says. 

“It opens a whole new world to us, and we can learn so much from the life our parents and grandparents lived.”

The writing process can also be therapeutic for people as they reflect on their lives. 

“If there was something that was unsettled, they find peace with it when they write it,” Byers says. “I’ve had past participants write something and tear it up saying they’re done with it now.”

No prior writing experience is needed. Participants will write at their own pace using whatever tools they prefer, pen and paper or a computer.

“That’s one thing we find people are nervous about,” Byers says, “but we’re not grading grammar or worried about their level of education. This is for them and their families.” 

The eight-session virtual workshop is free and will take place 11 a.m. to noon Tuesdays and Thursdays starting May 5. 

Sign up in advance is available online at

The Gazette-Democrat

112 Lafayette St.
Anna, Illinois 62906
Office Number: (618) 833-2158

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