Helen McKay is an experienced author, accredited public speaker and trainer, storyteller and workshop facilitator, who offers techniques, to help communicators develop their skills in storytelling, writing and speaking.
Founder of the Australian Storytelling Guild (NSW) Inc, President for four years and, after coordinating the 1997 Australian (Inter) National Storytelling Festival, she was elected life member of the Guild, on her retirement, in 1998. Helen produced and edited the bimonthly NSW Guild newsletter, Telling Tales, for six years. Helen worked tirelessly to promote storytelling.
While working in NZ, as a teacher of Primary, Secondary and Evening colleges, she inspired gifted under-achievers to extra ordinary artistic accomplishments, using music and story. Her work targeted the slower, or more reluctant students, to help them gain a sense of achievement through their artwork. With heightened self-esteem – due to the success of their projects – and a renewed interest in learning, these children were eventually fed back through the system, to become successful in academic achievements. Helen inspired many gifted under-achievers to extraordinary accomplishments, using music and story.
In partnership with her friend, Berice Dudley, she co-authored the book, ‘About Storytelling’, published by Hale & Iremonger, 1996, & 1998, (currently used as a recommended text by TAFE colleges and Universities).
‘Riotous Riddles’, followed in 1998 – also by produced Helen & Berice and published by Hale & Ironmonger. ‘Riotous Riddles’ is a book for children and the young at heart, created to encourage children to think laterally and help encourage reading skills. It is a great book for entertaining children, when travelling on long journeys.
‘Gadi Mirrabooka’ – a book of 33 Aboriginal stories – authored by Helen McKay, was published in 2001, by Libraries Unlimited, (now a division of Greenwood Publishing, US). Helen worked with 3 Aboriginal Story custodians: June Barker, Pauline McLeod (deceased), and Francis Firebrace: each of whom contributed a variety of authentic stories to the book. Francis Firebrace contributed the illustrations and Helen wrote the overview.
In 2007 Helen completed “Links to Your Happiness” – a book published by Hytor Publications, about a simple strategy – the daily use of the Happy Book. In “Links to Your Happiness”, Helen suggests a strategy for a more positive existence. By following her suggestions, it’s possible to refocus: become more optimistic and lead a happier, healthier life. The book reveals excerpts from Helen and her friend’s Happy Books, with which readers can identify, and she encourages readers to record daily, their happy experiences that come to mind. The Happy strategy is excellent for teaching children positive thinking.
Having won the 1992 Gordon Parker Award for short story, soon after she commenced writing, she followed up with success in the 1993 Society of Women Writers’ Award for short story. A number of Helen’s articles about story-telling, were published in (Australian) ‘Swag of Yarns’, ‘Telling Tales’ and (US) magazines: ‘Bookbird, and ‘Storytelling Magazine’. Other articles about health issues and other topics have been published in magazines and in websites on the Internet.
Helen is currently working on more advanced writing: some novels, plays, TV scripts. She presents Creative Writing workshops to groups, of both beginners and more experienced writers.
Working in tandem with Berice, Helen presents workshops for storytellers, speakers, writers and also those interested in enhancing their life skills: `Meeting Life’s Challenges and ‘Happiness and the Art of Living’ are two of these topics. The stories she offers to all age groups, range from folklore, natural and local history and personal experiences. She employs music, costume, simple bric-a-brac and other collectibles, as creative mind joggers for her stories.
An entertaining after dinner or public speaker, Helen links her stories to the messages she delivers. She is particularly interested in giving inspiration to youth and disabled people, to build their self-esteem and assist their vital communication skills. She is happy to talk about her happiness strategy – the Happy book – which has inspired some interesting audiences.