This past week I journeyed out again to see another one of our classroom programs, The Courage to Stand at the Texas School for the Deaf. Courage to Stand is TAP’s program for fourth and fifth graders that addresses issues of bullying.
The first day of the show starts with Alex, a fifth grader waiting for the school bus on Graduation Day. While at the bus stop, he encounters one of his old friends, Paul. Having made new friends this year, and slightly ashamed of the fact that Paul isn’t as “cool,” Alex is lukewarm to Paul’s attempts of kindness and friendship. At this point Joe approaches the two of them and starts making fun of Paul’s hat. Eager for acceptance from Joe, Alex does nothing to intervene and stop the bullying. Joe takes Paul’s hat and throws it into the river.
In an attempt to go retrieve the hat, Alex misses the school bus only to encounter a complete different vehicle, Bussy 3000 driven by Bessie a quirky retired bus driver. Together they embark on a journey to examine what bullying is, and what it means to be a bully, a target, and a bystander.
From there on out Alex finds himself traveling through time to see examples of bullying and courageous bystanders. On the first day he is taken back to Little Rock, Arkansas where he plays the role of Ernest Greene—one of the first African American students to attend an integrated school.
On the third day he and Bessie travel back further in time to Nazi occupied Gilleleje where the members of the town help their Jewish neighbors escape from deportation to the camps.
Lastly,on the fourth day, he returns to present time where he re-witnesses the bullying situation from the bus. Feeling discouraged and guilty, he turns to the audience members for help on how to make things right, and how to be a courageous bystander.
I felt really privileged to see this performance because it really demonstrated the quality of our programming. To the side of each actor was an ASL interpreter, and the entire show and student responses were translated back and forth. Each student was engaged and excited to help Alex be a courageous bystander. The class ends with the students receiving friendship bracelets to remind them to be a courageous bystander.
Check out this video about the impact of Courage to Stand: http://www.theatreactionproject.org/prog_ip_cts.html
83% of 4th and 5th grade teachers said that they had witnessed students being the “courageous bystander” after participating in the Courage to Stand program.
83% of 4th and 5th grade teachers said that students had been using vocabulary from the Courage to Stand program to help them prevent bullying in the
Author: Maria Quinn, Marketing and Development Assistant VISTA