December 2013 Newsletter
RESPECT always strives to create greater opportunities for students to share ideas and practice skills to help reduce bullying and promote safe and healthy relationships. With that in mind, RESPECT is very excited about two new programs that we have been offering: The first has been very popular and successful with students, in grades 4-8. We have been extending our one hour educational theatre program to 90 minutes. The addition of the extra 30 minutes allows for numerous opportunities to add problem solving role play scenarios about how to handle difficult situations in relationships with peers. The scenes are very short – often about 30 seconds – and are centered on topics that students want to keep talking about (dealing with negative peer pressure, standing up to bullies, being assertive and strong without getting into trouble for being aggressive, helping friends without being snitches, how to keep healthy boundaries when dating someone who wants to control them, etc.) Some of the scenes are lifted directly from the play the students just saw – and the students are allowed to step in and demonstrate how they themselves would choose to behave in specific situations. For students who prefer not to physically act in the actual scene, they simply direct RESPECT’s actor-educator as to how the scene could play out. Students learn from their interactions on stage and from the feedback they get from others. They learn from watching the many different scenarios play out in front of them. They learn the importance of thinking before they speak or act. The importance of practicing what they need to say. The impact nonverbal behavior has to their communication. They learn that there are many possible solutions to the same problem and it is fun to see their excitement as they add to their repertoire of healthy relationship building skills! These programs are especially fun for after school programs!
Additionally, while we have always offered one hour training sessions for parents and teachers on dating violence, bullying and how to facilitate healthy relationships among staff and students, we are now offering the same for high school students. These sessions are based on forum theatre techniques and incorporate problem scenarios that are collected from participants prior to the workshop and developed into very short scenarios for students to observe, discuss, problem solve and participate in. This one hour training does not include the one hour theatre program but can be done as a stand-alone program or as an “add on” later in the semester!
We are very excited to include these additional opportunities to stage conversations with students about healthy relationships and help them practice and problem solve the skills that work right for them!
Executive Director, RESPECT
RESPECT has had a groundbreaking and exciting semester demanding more than 100 shows of our Actor-Educators, from schools just down the street to those as far away as McCook, Nebraska.
One special opportunity we’ve had is to perform Puppy Pals at library branches throughout Omaha thanks to a generous grant from the Kiwanis Club of Omaha’s Young Children Priority One Foundation. Puppy Pals is a show we perform for pre-school audiences about using the “Stop And Think” routine to control your emotions, and making new friends. Each student who sees it gets a stuffed animal from our actors to practice these lessons. Our Education Director, Ilana, has been holding onto a collection of dozens of bags of stuffed animals throughout the year. Since we’ve performed the show for more than 500 students this year, we’ve been working through those quickly.
We’ve also been busy with our new training model. One driving goal this year has been to make all of our programming even more interactive and engaging, and our trainings now deliver on this more than ever. We collect challenging scenarios from our the partner organization for each session, and then build simple role-play scenes out of those stories. We’ve also started offering a model with an additional half-hour, where we split the audience into small groups and build scenes on-the-fly using their own discussions of the bullying they see and face.
It’s been a remarkable year, and we can’t wait to keep sharing our growth and development with you in 2014!
Featured Resource: The Ollie Webb Center
The Ollie Web Center’s mission is to enrich the lives of individuals with developmental disabilities and their families through support, programs and advocacy. The Ollie Webb Center will be RESPECT’s featured organization at our upcoming Community Advisory Committee meeting on January 15th. This meeting will be an opportunity to discuss, learn, and share ideas about how to help individuals with disablities in our community and how theatre and the arts can be used to do so. Community Advisory Committee meetings are held at the Market Basket at 87th and Pacific from 7:30 – 9:30 a.m. To RSVP for the meeting on January 15th or find out more information contact Education Director, Ilana Weiss.
Frequently Asked Question: Why Would Someone Cut Himself?
Every year RESPECT receives thousands of questions on anonymously submitted note cards from students. We answer as many of these as we can during our programs’ talk-back sessions. The others we share with the teachers at the school so that they know the questions that their students have. The FAQ section of our newsletter in this and future editions will focus on these questions received directly from students.
Most kids say that they are not trying to kill themselves. Most kids say they do this because they need a release. They have different ideas about what they need releases from but mostly it is a release from some kind of emotional stress: anger, anxiety, sadness, depression, worry, uncertainty. They say that cutting gives them something that they can do in response to these feelings.
Cutting does not make you a bad person but it is not a healthy choice because it does not do anything to get rid of the emotional stress for very long. If you know someone who cuts or are cutting yourself, you need to find someone talk with to help you find a better way to get a release from those emotional stresses.
If you are not sure what to do, talk with an adult in your life that you trust about why you feel you need to cut yourself. If you cannot think of anyone to talk with, call our friends at the Boys Town National Hotline: 1-800-448-3000. Life can be stressful for anyone of any age and there are ways to deal with the stress so that your life feels better for you!