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Monthly Archives: November 2009

Theatre Action Project at the Mandala Food Drive

Theatre Action Project attended the Mandala Food Drive at UT on Wednesday, Nov 4!

The harvest initiative was very successful in spite of the tight economic situation; Austin is lucky to have such a generous, giving community. The event raised more than 200 pounds more than last year’s harvest, almost 2,000 pounds of food! The total fruits and vegetables weighed in at 875 pounds; the canned goods and other non-perishables were slightly over 1100 pounds.

The event itself was very colorful and inspired, with paths of produce winding up to the Can Mountain in the center of the donations. If you would’ve been able to see it from an aerial view, it would have resembled a Mandala, much like the ones that Theatre Action Project was creating on the sidewalks. TAP put down long sheets of paper and invited one and all to create chalk mandalas to celebrate the harvest. There was also a booth set up for individuals to come up and make a Mandala on a smaller scale to take home with them.

It turned out being the perfect balance of sunshine and nonprofit fundraising and TAP was happy to be there adding to the fun!

TAP stands up to bullies!

Bullying is aggressive behavior that is intentional (not accidental or done in fun) and that involves an imbalance of power or strength. Often, bullying is repeated over time. Bullying can take many forms, such as: hitting or punching, teasing or name-calling, intimidation through gestures, social exclusion, and sending insulting messages or pictures by mobile phone or using the Internet (also known as cyberbullying).

Bullying in schools is becoming more prevalent and affects ALL students.

o Bullying can seriously affect the mental health, academic work, and physical health of children who are targeted.
o Children who bully are more likely than other children to be engaged in other antisocial, violent, or troubling behavior.
o Bullying can negatively affect children who observe bullying going on around them–even if they aren’t targeted themselves.

How can you prevent bullying at your school?

o Contact your school’s principal immediately if you feel that your child is being bullied or is bullying another child.
o Find out what program your school is using to educate and prevent bullying.

If your school does not have a bullying prevention program, contact your PTA, counselor or principal to bring Theatre Action Project’s “The Courage to Stand” into your school. This five hour program for 4th- 6th graders deals with bullying and what children can do to stand up for themselves and others in a bullying situation. TAP uses the magic of theatre to truly engage students in the topic. Through the performance students can connect to the characters and really understand how it feels to be bullied.

The program has been touring to area schools since 2001 and more than 10,000 young people have participated in the program. Recent evaluations show that 90% or more of young people learn specific tactics for helping to end bullying in their school through the program. Click here for more information: Courage to Stand.

The US government also has a great website with resources, lessons and games about bullying prevention. The website has a section for parents and for children.

Go to:

Until Next Time,
Julie (Parent/Teacher/Child Advocate/TAP volunteer)

"Lights On After School” Barrington Elementary

TAP After School at Barrington Elementary participated in “Lights On After School”, which is an annual event to raise awareness about the importance of after school programs.

For the event we took youth from a handful of AISD elementary schools near Lanier High School to march from their school to Lanier, where we gathered for an assembly of performances and songs and pep talks from program directors, and best of all: FREE CAKE!

Our students gathered up in the gym at Barrington ready to take to the streets with the posters and badges they had decorated to show their support of our own after school program, called Stampede.

Once we got outside, the weather was nice and morale was high. Passing traffic honked and the students chanted after our program director, Candice: “When I say ‘Stam,’ you say ‘pede!’ STAM! PEDE! STAM PEDE! STAM! PEDE!” When I say ‘lights,’ you say ‘on!’ LIGHTS! ON! LIGHTS! ON!” And so on and so on, until our throats were raw and destroyed. Hooray.

Once we made it to lanier, there was more screaming, followed by a break dancing act performed by some of Lanier’s finest High School B-Boys.

Unfortunately, since this event was a new-born baby, things didn’t go quite as planned. Time ran out quickly and our poor students missed out on cake. Uh-oh. That meant the walk home was not quite as exciting. Nonetheless, some students took advantage of the calm atmosphere to reflect upon some of the more nuanced aspects of their surrounding neighborhood. We saw undeveloped areas of vast green forest, places that would be perfect for skateboarding, restaurants that we’d like to eat at, and spooky Halloween decorations on people’s front lawns.

All and all, the event was an excellent excuse to vent out a superfluity glut of energy and to enjoy some fine, fine sunshine.

~Aron Taylor, TAP After School: Barrington

Family Fun Night at Brown Elementary!

Family Fun Night is the component of TAP’s First Night Austin Neighborhood Project where we create a space for students and their families to come together and be a part of discovering their neighborhood and work on projects that will be used in our First Night Austin parade on December 31st. The Neighborhood Project is all about celebrating the beauty in our neighborhoods and exploring where we might want to make improvements.

All of our after-school classes will be doing First Night Austin projects, however Brown Elementary is one of the four schools within the Lamar/183 Neighborhood that will work on this project more in-depth. Each of these schools will focus on either, art, food, architecture, or the natural beauty of their neighborhood/Austin. Brown is focusing on the natural beauty of their neighborhood.

The Brown Elementary’s Family Fun Night had a great turn out of over 30 families! As the families walked in, they marked where they lived and places of natural beauty on a map of Austin. They also made door hangers to represent beauty within their neighborhood, and took a school tour which included four components: taking photos, creating a map, creating 3-d signs, and the creation of a podcast. By having the students document the tour through photography and a podcast, the audience can literally follow their footsteps, and see how the school looks through their eyes.

The Brown Elementary Program Coordinator, Claire, thought the school tour was a great way to empower the youth by giving them a voice. That was wonderful news to me, as that was exactly what I had hoped to do! I was thinking about how museums and tours set things apart as “special”. I wanted to see if we could “museum-ify” the kids’ most immediate every day environment; supporting the project’s larger goals of not having to leave our every day lives to find something special or beautiful, but to find that beauty in our own lives, in our own surroundings.

One of the youth’s parents gave Claire a big hug after the event, and told her that the door hanger activity was really beautiful, a really important activity for both of her children (one of whom is in my class, one who’s in pre-K) to think about what’s important in their community. She was one of the first parents to tell me that she’d like to come along on our field trip today too, in which we’re going to go on a walk in the neighborhood around our school to take photos of the natural beauty in our neighborhood. These photos will inspire the large scale puppetry we’re working on for the First Night parade. We’ll also be collecting found objects, which we’ll use as material with which to create our puppets.

Brown’s Family Fun Night on December 3rd will have special guest Patrick Fortson, a Geologist at W&M Environmental Group, Inc. and graduate of the University of Texas with a degree in Geosystems Engineering & Hydrogeology. The kids will get to ask Patrick questions about geology and check out specimens of Austin’s natural landscape and Geology Field Equipment.

Natalie Goodnow, TAP Artistic Associate and Teaching Artist

Mac and Cheese Smackdown & Children’s Festival

Fall was in the air Saturday, October 24th – and so was the smell of delicious macaroni and cheese. While not a traditional fall scent, it received a hearty welcome from all who attended the Mac and Cheese Smackdown & Children’s Festival presented by Theatre Action Project and Central Market North.

Thanks to the many dedicated volunteers, kids had a chance to participate in a variety of activities that showcased the creativity, talent, and passion for sharing the arts that Theatre Action Project has to offer. Children had a blast with TAP’s ‘Make your own Macaroni Masterpiece’ and Chef Hat. The kids and their parents dove into the array of supplies; including paint, glitter, googly eyes, feathers, beads, and every noodle you can think of! It was also a great day for parachute fun, TAP’s Red Balloon Puppet Show and World Tales and Tunes performances in the park.

Kid’s got into costume as well with great face paint designs such as pirates, tigers, butterflies, dinosaurs, and more. Not too mention dressing up to see the Biscuit Brothers! The Biscuit Brothers kicked the day off by getting the kids dancing, and Joe McDermott kept them on their feet with his fun sing-a-longs.

Despite all of the fun and creative things for everybody to do, anticipation was building all day for the Mac & Cheese Smackdown. Local chefs Hoover Alexander of Hoover’s Cooking, Lou Lambert of Lambert’s Downtown Barbecue, and Stewart Scruggs of Zoot and Wink Restaurants were pitted against each other in a friendly competition to determine the city’s best Mac and Cheese dish. Local Austin food critics, Bob Balon, Mando Reyes, Addie Broyles, and our two Kid Judge Winners, 9 year old Dotty Woods and 8 year old Malaya Wright served as our food judges. After hungrily watching all the chefs prepare their dishes and listening to the judges’ feedback, the winner was announced – Hoover Alexander of Hoover’s Cooking. Attendees were lucky enough to try samplings of the different Mac and Cheese dishes, judging for themselves which was the best.

It was a wonderful day filled with good company, great food, and the arts! More importantly, many new people got a chance to learn about the amazing things TAP does to make a difference in children’s lives every day. It was exciting to hear people discover that such a valuable organization exists in Austin and express their interest in finding out more. We’re thrilled that the Mac and Cheese Smackdown was such a success, raising two thousand and eight hundred dollars! Thank you to all our volunteers and attendees, your contribution helps us reach more youth each year!!