RSS Feed

Monthly Archives: January 2010

TAP: It’s what’s for lunch!

Sarah, Megan, Chelsea, Dustin, and Emily (5 out of the 10 members of our TAP Lunch Network)

One of my favorite things about TAP is its commitment to community. This commitment is in our mission statement and an integral part of every program, performance, and event we do.

School communities come together to watch and participate in our TAP in the Classrooms performances. The teenage actors in our Changing Lives Youth Ensemble form their own communities as they craft their shows and then reach out to other communities in schools all over Austin. Families in the Lamar/ 183 neighborhood have gotten to know each other and their communities through our ongoing Neighborhood Project. And events like our Mac and Cheese Smackdown bring together people from all over town.

Basically, bringing people together and fostering community is what TAP does and, frankly, we do it well. I think our success is due in large part to the incredible sense of community in our office and among our staff. I could talk about our open communication, our sense of humor, or our joy in working for a cause we support and believe in, but instead I would like to focus on something much more tangible (and delicious): food.

Lunch cooked by Chelsea: Spinach, feta, strawberry, and raisin salad with raspberry pecan vinagrette,sweet potato black bean quesadillas with grilled onions and zucchini, and cheeseand homemade guacamole, sour cream, and chips

One of the coolest things about this office, atleast so far as I’m concerned, is our lunch break. I know many employees eat together at lunchtime, but I don’t know of anywhere else where they cook for each other. While pulling together lunch for ten can be a bit stressful, each of us only does it twice a month and I think we’d agree that coming together to eat is pretty wonderful. The food usually isn’t fancy—soups, salads, spaghetti, and so forth (though we have had stroganoff and homemade pizzas, too)—but it doesn’t need to be. That’s because, really, our lunches aren’t about the food; they’re about community.

Blog Author: Elizabeth Kohout—TAP Programming Assistant

50 Fun Ideas For Family Time!

Mother and son having fun at our Dinosaur Adventure Paramount event!

So how are those New Year’s Revolutions coming along? Did you grab your friends and family and head out to First Night? It is never too late to start those family traditions. Family activity is the single best way to create a strong family.

  1. Visit the Austin Zoo.
  2. Get out the family photo album.
  3. Fly kites.
  4. Make a collage out of pictures from old magazines.
  5. Set up a lemonade stand on a warm day.
  6. Shoot hoops together. Play H.O.R.S.E.
  7. Draw pictures of members of your family.
  8. Play freeze-tag.
  9. Go for a hike.
  10. Go for a bike ride together.
  11. Go get ice cream.
  12. Listen to classical music, lights off, lying on the floor, and take turns saying what it sounds like.
  13. Attend community concerts or listen to a local band.
  14. Visit the library.
  15. Go ice skating or roller skating.
  16. Paint a picture, a mural or a room.
  17. Plant a tree or some flowers.
  18. Learn sign language.
  19. Pick berries/fruit together
  20. Bake cookies or bread.
  21. Take treats to neighbors or friends.
  22. Plant a garden.
  23. Start a family journal.
  24. Go to a museum.
  25. Play cards.
  26. Exercise as a family.
  27. Sing (in the car).
  28. Write a story together.
  29. Put a sleeping bag out in the back yard and watch the night sky through binoculars.
  30. Have a culture night. Make a meal and learn about another culture.
  31. Take photographs.
  32. Do yard work together.
  33. Go camping in your backyard
  34. Go for a long walk.
  35. Play charades.
  36. During dinner have every family member tell the best part of their day.
  37. Go dancing. Have a family dance. Take a dance class together.
  38. Climb a tree.
  39. Watch the sunset. Watch the sunrise.
  40. Have a big party to celebrate a TV free week.
  41. Have a picnic. (If it’s raining, have a picnic in the family room on a blanket.)
  42. Have a bubble blowing contest.
  43. Do bubbles outside.
  44. Try different instruments.
  45. Go miniature golfing.
  46. Have a family treasure hunt.
  47. Play hide and seek.
  48. Play basketball
  49. Teach your children something you enjoy.
  50. What are you already doing?

The point is to do something, anything. You need it, your kids need it.

This Sunday I’m volunteering for a family fun event; TAP will be hosting pre-show activities at the Paramount showings of Goodnight Moon & The Runaway Bunny.

Join us before the 2 and 4:30 showtimes for some family fun.

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

Volunteering at TAP!

First Night 2010

When I first heard about TAP and what we’re all about, I knew it was the perfect volunteering opportunity for me. I wanted to be a part of my community and tangible social change. What better and fun way to do that for me then getting involved with helping children learn about important social issues, critical life skills, and gain self-confidence through the creative arts!

I first became involved with TAP through becoming an After School volunteer assisting a Teaching Artist at Langford Elementary. I was so excited about the opportunity that I made an arrangement with my supervisor to leave early every Tuesday to volunteer.

It’s a unique volunteer experience to volunteer every week; the students knew me and I was part of the class which made me feel like I was actually part of TAP and the mission. I was impressed with how the Teaching Artist worked with the students through improv, creating plays, creating art projects inspired by folk tales, and more, all woven with the common thread of social conscious topics.

It’s amazing to watch TAP’s unique way of engaging the students and how this helps them make deeper connections to the subjects and associate stories and messages in a very profound way. One example is when we read a book about Bessie Coleman, the first African American to become a licensed airplane pilot, and the first American of any race or gender to hold an international pilot license.

It was very moving to hear the students talk about the importance of this and relate it back to other stories they had read about other minorities who also lived in poverty and reached amazing goals. The Teaching Artist didn’t start this conversation, the students found the message and connection themselves. This is an example of tangible social change to me…witnessing the students understand another person’s experience and connect with it in such a meaningful way that they carried it with them and how they interpreted other stories and their perception of the world.

The students are also walking away thinking about these stories and remembering what they mean to them through the art projects they personally create based on their own interpretations and personal relation. In correlation with the Bessie Coleman story we made paper airplanes with the students and had them write their dreams and goals on the plane. It was interesting to hear them talk about what they wanted to be and what was important to them. One funny thing I over heard was, “yeah my mom makes a lot of money because she’s always on time to work”. Afterwards, we took the airplanes to the playground to fly, a very sweet and beautiful metaphor for their dreams to take flight.

I actually kept a journal of the days I spent at Langford, including quotes from the students. This experience enriched my life and made me feel genuinely connected to my community, so much so that I started volunteering at community events most weekends too. I was proud of investing so much time in TAP and the impact I witnessed within the community. I’m now the Community Relations Manager at TAP and I’m very grateful to help others experience volunteering in such a meaningful way.

Please let me know how you’d like to get involved and we’ll work together to find a good fit for you.

Contact me to schedule a volunteer orientation:

I look forward to hearing stories from other TAP volunteers and Teaching Artists!! Please share:)

Thank you!


"Try on" theatre! It might just fit!

Changing Lives Youth Theatre Ensemble
New friends!

There is a lot written in the media about how team and even individual sports can boost your child’s self-confidence. So what does a parent do if a child is not interested in sports? Theater is a great way for a child to explore the world around them and themselves. The following are just some of the benefits of theater in a child’s life.

• Improves communication skills
• Helps develop the ability to think critically
• Gives an opportunity to express oneself
• Encourages cooperation with others in achieving a joint goal
• Helps develop moral and spiritual values
• Helps a child explore oneself
• Helps develop sensitivity and understanding of the feelings of others
• Provides a safe and welcoming environment
• Offers one-on-one attention for the socially challenged
• Fosters peer acceptance and self-worth
• Teaches responsibility and accountability
• Provides a creative outlet

All of these skills are valuable to children in school and in their future careers. Many adults suffer from a crippling fear of public speaking. A child who is on stage performing at a young age learns these skills early and will be able to incorporate them into school presentations and future board room meetings.

Camp is a great way to determine if theater is something your child is interested in. Theatre Action Project hosts a spring break camp and 8 weeks of summer camps. This is the perfect safe place for your child to “try on” theater to see if it suits them.

Info about Theatre Action Project’s Spring Break Camp “Playmakers!”:

Who: Grades 5th-12th

When: March 15-19, 2010, 9:00-4:30 (extended care available)

Where: Griffin School

What: Students learn about theatre and create a piece together that they will perform on Friday. Cost: $200.00

Registration coming soon! For more info email:

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