RSS Feed

Monthly Archives: December 2009

Youth and Community

It takes a village to raise a child – African Proverb.

It is obvious that parents, babysitters, siblings, and friends have a significant influence in a child’s life. What is less obvious is the influence that communities have on a child’s life. By community, I am referring to neighbors, church groups, sports teams and other peripheral groups that can shape their lives.

Parents want the best for their children watching their diets, making sure they attend school, and do their homework. Parents cannot do it alone. Kids need to have role models in their community to look up to and reinforce what their parents are teaching them. There are a lot of resources available to parents to build a healthy community around their children.

Parents can turn to church groups, local parenting groups, the YMCA, and groups like Theatre Action Project that offer after school programming, spring and summer camps, and community events. Another way to build community in a child’s life is by starting traditions with your children.

Make it your New Year’s Resolution to start a new tradition with your children. Traditions can be as simple as going to the story time at your public library each week, or as involved as serving in your local soup kitchen. The goal is to find groups that share your family values and supports the messages you are teaching your children.

Theatre Action Project is all about community. There are so many opportunities to get involved with people who will support and care about your children. TAP hosts fun family activities before and after Paramount shows such as Goodnight Moon, showing on January 24th. Keep up with TAP in the Community on our event calandar!

Family at TAP’s Dinosaur Adventure at the Paramount

Coming up this week is TAP’s parade and tile making booth at First Night Austin – 2009. TAP’s theme this year is “The Neighborhood Project”. We’re asking the Austin community to look for beauty and room from improvement in their neighborhoods.

This is a great tradition to start with your family. Come participate in First Night Austin on December 31st and ring in the New Year with your community. You can create a tile about your neighborhood for our mural and march with us in our parade. We are meeting at 8th and Colorado at 4:30pm to get ready and we will get in parade formation at 6th and Congress at 5:30pm to prepare to march from 6pm to 7m.

Invite your neighbors and children’s friends and make it a party. The evening is a free family-friendly and alcohol-free public celebration, showcasing the unique culture of Austin through expressive, creative traditions of performing and visual arts in downtown Austin.

For more information on First Night Austin go to…

Have a Safe and Happy New Year!

Julie Flores (Parent/Teacher/Child Advocate/TAP Volunteer)

Letters to TAP

Santa Claus vs. Aron, TAP Teaching Artist

Just the other day I was at the post office and saw a family come in with letters to mail to Santa Claus. It made me think of all the letters we get here at TAP from students. I mean we’re no Santa Claus but our Teaching Artists are pretty close…can you see the similarity?!

Students get so excited when they see our Teaching Artists at their school…”hey that’s Miss Natalie, Sam the Salamander, and Mr. Freddy!”

Teaching Artists, Natalie and Freddy performing Heroes/Los Heroes

Our teachers give students the tools to deal with conflict, to be courageous bystanders, and to make alternative choices to everyday issues they face in life. Our teachers connect with the students in a fun way and allow them to explore creativity and discover their own self confidence in the process.

It’s so cool seeing the teachers come and go knowing they’re off to a class where they will really make a difference in their student’s lives.

Here’s a letter from a St. Andrew’s student:

“Dear Ms. Claire, Mr. Tim, and TAP,

Thank you so so much for coming to St. Andrew’s! I feel like I could never forget the wonderful story you told. It was great! I am so glad you came!”

A Pretty Penny for Arts Education

TAP’s Youth Theatre Symposium (FREE EVENT for middle and high school students)

Theatre Action Project has dedicated itself to the development of youth through arts education…and they work hard find ways to bring it to students all over Austin despite school funds.

According to Douglas Israel, the director of research and policy for The Center for Arts Education, students do not have equal access to arts education. The somber fact remains that public schools that have the lowest graduation rates – where arts could really teach these students life lessons that most other education cannot – have the least opportunity for students to participate in arts learning.

High schools in the top third of graduation rates have almost 40 percent more certified art teachers than schools in the bottom third, as well as 40 percent more physical space and classrooms to support arts learning.

Arts education provides learning that can teach students things that a regular classroom education cannot. In fact, data collected by the New York City Department of Education suggests that arts play a key role in keeping students in high school and graduating on time.

High schools in the top third of graduation rates are almost 50 percent more likely to raise funds to support the arts, and thus have more coursework and opportunities to participate in the arts.

TAP seeks grants for schools that cannot afford arts programming. Check out their blog from last week about a grant they received that funds programming for high school students.

I think it is important that we show our support for this issue, and support arts education through both vocal and financial means. It is vital that students have the opportunity to learn through arts education in Austin and around the country as well.

Matthew Koller, UT Student and TAP supporter

TAP got its wish!

Andrea Ball, Austin American-Statesman reporter and author of the Charity Chat blog is to thank for TAP’s wish being granted by A Glimmer of Hope Foundation.

Ms. Ball asked local non-profits to send in our wish lists…TAP’s included the following:

  • Paint Brushes
  • Glue Guns
  • Matte Knives
  • Acrylic Paint
  • Video Camera
  • Digital Camera
  • Food

A Glimmer of Hope Foundation is granting us $2,000 to cover the cost of these items!! Thank you to Andrea Ball and A Glimmer of Hope Foundation! These supplies will be used in our programming…donations like this help us further our reach to more youth!

"A small wish for peace"

A First Night Austin parade member with his shadow box in memory of
Sadako Sasaki.

CNN is highlighting stories about acts of kindnesses and generosity for the holidays. Today’s story is about Sadako Sasaki, a young woman who inspired hope for peace in people all over the world though making paper cranes.

TAP’s 2008 First Night Austin theme was based on the non-fiction children’s book Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes.

The story is of a girl, Sadako Sasaki, who lived in Hiroshima at the time of the atomic bombing. She developed leukemia from the radiation and spent her time in a nursing home folding paper cranes in hope of making a thousand, which supposedly would have allowed her to make one wish, which was to live. However, she only managed to fold 644 cranes before she became too weak to fold one more, and died shortly after. People made the rest after she died and made a statue for her. (

TAP staff and volunteers made thousands of peace cranes for our First Night Austin parade and even sent some to Japan! Check out our previous blog about the project!

Make your own peace crane!!

Also get involved with TAP’s First Night Austin theme this year, The Neighborhood Project. Help us inspire austinites to look for beauty and room for improvement in their neighborhoods!

Texas State Representative Dawnna Dukes and Executive Director of Texas Commission on the Arts Gary Gibbs support TAP!!

TAP’s Youth Theatre Symposium

Dukes recently announced that TAP received 3 grants from the Texas Commission on the Arts through a media release. These grants support our Changing Lives Youth Ensemble and New Stages programs.

The Changing Lives Youth Ensemble, made up of high school students from all over Austin, is in collaboration with Safe Place and focuses on creating plays that raise awareness about dating violence and other related issues.

The New Stages program is for incarcerated youth at Gardner Betts Juvenile Justice Center; where we work with youth to talk about their life experiences through creative expression in preparation to create a play about their lives.

So what does Dukes and Gibbs have to say about TAP?!

“It is encouraging to see that the grants will support awareness and prevention of teen dating violence,” said Rep. Dukes. “With continued awareness, and programs like this, we can ensure that no young Texan has to experience the danger or anguish of abuse from a dating partner.”

“TCA is pleased to invest funds in organizations like Theatre Action Project that provide artistic services directly to students who are in need,” said Dr. Gary Gibbs, Executive Director of Texas Commission on the Arts. “TAP’s work with juvenile offenders and young people who have experienced domestic violence addresses the priorities of State government in creative, innovative, and engaging ways.”

TAP thanks Texas State Representative Dawnna Dukes and Executive Director of Texas Commission on the Arts Gary Gibbs for supporting our mission to reach Austin youth through the creative arts and create social change!!

Check out the media release here:

Teen reaches out for help on YouTube

I came across this story on CNN’s website and it made me think about what we do here at TAP. Social media sites, namely YouTube are being used to illuminate the dark issue of bullying.

Alexis Xanders, a 15-year-old student from Ohio recently posted a video to YouTube and CNN’s i-report in which she was bullied and assaulted by another student while many others egged the bully on and watched. Now, the uploaded videos are gaining widespread support and law-enforcement officials are beginning to take notice.

The video allowed police to successfully charge the bully with assault and is currently in the process of charging other students who were present for the event. Social media outlets are proving to be incredibly useful in this case and many others across the nation.

“Tell somebody and do something about it,” says Alexis Xanders. “Don’t just sit there and take it. You can use your words, not your hands.”

If you or someone you know is being bullied, please tell a trusted adult. Break the cycle of violence!

For more information please visit: .

Or check out this earlier post which can give you more information on how to stop bullying in your school and what TAP is doing to help!