Dramatic Change: Kaiser Permanente’s Educational Theater Anti-Bullying Programs
NURTURING A CULTURE OF CARING THROUGH THEATRE
“The face of bullying changes from community to community. Therefore, there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ way to solve such a problem. What I have learned is that in order to create effective bully prevention programs, we had to first understand, respect, and honor the cultures of the school and communities we were serving. We always got a better response from the students and teachers with that approach as our foundation.”- Jessica Smith, Educational Theatre team member, Mid Atlantic Region
“The performances of “Choose Your Life” helped open up lines of communication between students, staff, and parents regarding bullying. The tips and strategies have already been implemented many times.” PTO President, Flatirons Elementary, Colorado
At the Dramatic Change Anti-Bullying pre-conference event at the AATE conference, Kaiser Permanente’s Educational Theatre presented its work in Maryland and Colorado. We compared and contrasted two different theatrical approaches to anti-bullying programs in schools for 3rd-8th grade students, as well as discussed the development of effective anti-bullying educational theatre programs. We shared our experience with an interactive workshop BULLY BUSTERS, which is aimed at empowering the victim and the bystander to “repel” bullies. The program has been provided to schools in the Maryland and Washington, DC area for a year, and it allows students to identify and dramatize bullying scenarios.
We contrasted this with Colorado’s Educational Theatre program CHOOSE YOUR LIFE, which is a fully-staged, interactive play that presents practical strategies to empower all students when they are faced with bullying situations. The presentation included various clips from the live show, as well as an in-depth discussion on the development, research and assessment of the program that has reached over 85,000 students in Colorado.
Curtis Robbins is Program Supervisor for Educational Theatre Programs at Kaiser and a member of the TYA/USA Board