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Category Archives: Alternative Solutions

CYD Courage in Action All-Star Camp

By: Emily Tindall, CYD Program Manager

This is the fourth year that Theatre Action Project has received the Community Youth Development (CYD) grant, a grant designed to provide free programming for youth in the 78744 zip code here in Austin. This grant is awarded to TAP by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, through the City of Austin.

Each year through the CYD grant, TAP serves over 1000 youth – in one zip code alone! We have 4 programs under the grant – the Courage to Stand for 4th and 5th grades, Courage in Action for 5th and 6th grades, Alternative Solutions for 6th-12th grades, and a summer program open to any youth 10-17 that live in 78744.

This summer, we are excited to announce that we are expanding (by combining) our summer and Courage in Action programs! We have designed the Courage in Action All-Star Camp – This camp is an extension of Courage in Action, an opportunity for youth to work together with other students from 78744/Dove Springs-area elementary schools to recognize problems in the world and to develop creative and peaceful solutions to those problems, expressed through the arts. The camp will feature special guest speakers, visits from community leaders, field trips, and a public presentation of the students’ work, hopefully to be broadcast on local news outlets. This camp will provide an excellent opportunity for youth in the 78744 to develop valuable skills in teamwork, leadership, and creative expression.

Our Special Agents of Courage (known to TAP as Natalie Goodnow and Keri Boyd) are currently back in schools in the ’44, asking youth to join them for this exciting super-secret mission. We are so excited to have an opportunity to partner with the Dove Springs Recreation Center, where the camp will be held, to bring new, exciting programming to the ’44, and extend our work with these youth!

If you’d like more information on this camp, the Community Youth Development grant, or would like to get involved, contact Emily Tindall, CYD Program Manager at emily@theatreactionproject.org!

Alternative Solutions

by Natalie Goodnow, Artistic Associate

For the past month, Teaching Artist Keri Boyd and I have been on a bit of a hiatus from our normal gig, performing Courage in Action in elementary schools, and have now been performing Alternative Solutions for middle school students at Mendez Middle School, Ojeda Middle School, and AISD’s Alternative Learning Center. In Alternative Solutions, we explore conflict and conflict resolution through theatre games and scenework, meeting two fictional characters – “Kim” and “Julie,” both middle school students – who are undergoing a conflict themselves.

My favorite moments in the program have been on Day Three of the four-day residency, when the students are “in-role” as counselors giving advice to Julie and then to Kim. I love interacting with the students as “Kim,” and hearing their advice as to what I ought to do resolve my conflict with my best friend. In that moment, the students and I essentially switch roles. I become the youth; they’re the adults. I’m the one with questions and problems; they’re the ones with knowledge, with wisdom, who know the answers.

The students get a kick out of telling me to put my hood down (my “costume” is a gray hoodie), to follow the dress code, and to watch my attitude; and I get a kick out of testing them, seeing how much they’ll let me “get away with” in their counselors’ office. That’s the fun part.

The exciting part, though, is to see students who have been quiet, or only minimally cooperative at other moments in class, suddenly spring to life once they’re “in-role.” What’s even more exciting is to discover that the students really do have knowledge and wisdom; they know the answers.

I’ll always remember Diana, utterly silent the rest of the day, holding her hand to her heart telling Keri/her character,


“Julie, why are you so upset. We are here to help you. This is a healing place. You just need to talk to your friend, tell her how you feel. Be patient. Listen to her. Pat her on the back. She’s your best friend. It will be ok, Julie.”

Not once did we tell this student what to say, or how to say it! This is just one more example of the power of TAP’s pedagogy. Young people really don’t need us to give them answers to their problems. They just need a safe, creative space in which to discover these answers for themselves.