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Category Archives: Courage in Action

Courageous Leaders Start Successful Clubs in Gullet Elementary

We are so proud of the courageous leaders of Gullet Elementary School. After Courage in Action, a four-day residency with Theatre Action Project visited Gullett’s 5th graders about a month ago, the students formed two clubs which continued meeting independently: The Hunger Helpers and SAAT (Stop Animal Abuse Team).

The Hunger Helpers launched a highly successful food drive and SAAT is about to launch a pet food and supply drive. And that’s just the beginning. SAAT in particular has big plans for the future. Check out the photo gallery below to see what they and the Hunger Helpers have been up to, and what they’re planning next.

A favorite excerpt from a letter one of our courageous leaders wrote to her principal after our 4-day program:

“We are looking for homes for [Lou, the cat we found], and I am sure there are plenty of people who will love him/her, and he/she would be a great family cat. But I am not [writing you] looking for homes [for Lou today]. I am looking for help for other animals in Lou’s name. (He didn’t die, I am just wanting to do it for him), so I was wondering if we could have and animal food drive. I mean, we have people food drives, why not some for animals, too?
I also want to make a difference. I can. It doesn’t matter your age. I am a kid, but I am NOT just going to sit around waiting for adults to make the difference for me. Because guess who is going to be the adult tomorrow? Me. So why wait? People will listen. Animals have a voice. We just need to listen and help. And I want to help because I hear the plea. I will keep trying, and never give up. I CAN make the world a better place, and I will. I will start small. I hope you take this into consideration!”

To learn more about Courage in Action, visit us at and get inspired!

Memories Worth Remembering

by Natalie Goodnow, Artistic Associate

I love getting thank-you letters from students, especially when they are unsolicited. It really does mean very, very much to me, and I keep them all. Most are on bulletin boards by my desk, to remind me what I’m working for even when I’m not in the classroom or on a school campus. In my (almost) five years of working with youth with Theatre Action Project, however, I think this is the best thank you letter I’ve ever received. It was addressed to Keri Boyd and me, from a student at Redeemer Lutheran in our Courage in Action TAP in the Classroom program.

The text reads:
Dear Agents 89 & 11, 
Thank you so much for coming and showing me what it means to be a courageous leader. It will come in handy to know how to
speak up for what I need to. The best part was getting to play and laugh at the same time while learning. Y’all have made the courage inside of me very strong. The truth is that before y’all came I didn’t know what I wanted to be but now I know exactly what I want to be. I promise I will try to always be a courageous leader. Once again thank y’all so much. Y’all are the best.
Sincerely, Angela R.

Thank You message from above

Agents 89 and 11 are the main characters in the Courage in Action program who lead students through a story inspiring them to be courageous leaders

Courageous Leaders In Service to their Communities

by Natalie Goodnow, Artistic Associate

Keri Boyd (aka Agent 89) and I have been having a blast visiting all the Courageous Leaders we’ve met throughout the fall semester, touring our four-day interactive performance residency called Courage in Action (CIA) to fifth- and sixth-grade classrooms all over Central Texas and we’re making the rounds of follow-up visits. We always love getting to say hello to our students again, seeing the bright smiles on their faces when they recognize us and how vividly they remember the program they had 6-10 weeks earlier. We’re also always curious to find out just how much headway they’ve made with the projects they began to imagine on Day Four of Courage in Action.

We were particularly impressed by the work of the 5th grade students at Mathews Elementary. One group, Read the rest of this entry

Spreading the News

by Mary Alice Carnes, Community Relations Director

My goal for the New Year is to continue to sing out the good news about Theatre Action Project’s mission and impact. 2011 was a banner year for highlighting TAP’s work via the media–press and social media–who put the spotlight on  Sara Hickman’s The Best of Times CD to benefit TAP, Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell talking with the Courage in Action All Stars at Austin City Hall , or Nitra Gutierrez discussing how Changing Lives Youth Theatre Ensemble changes the lives of its young participants and audiences. TAP is spreading the news about how it inspires youth to be creative artists, courageous allies, critical thinkers and confident leaders, and my mission continues.

Shifting from serious to fun, who would have believed we would have a passionate “cupcake wars” on Twitter, Facebook and KEYE TV with last October’s Cupcake a Doodle Do! event? Austin proved it is serious about cupcakes and ardent about  supporting TAP.

I invite you to join the discussion. Send us your thoughts about arts education, ideas for stopping bullying in 2012, and tell us how creativity feeds your soul. Friend us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter (@TAPAustin), flip through our photo collection on Flickr, or sign up to be a TAP blog subscriber.

If you missed a TAP interview or article, check out our press page. In the meantime, here are a few highlights from 2011. Click on the links below to view, listen, or read:

A True Courageous Leader

by Natalie Goodnow, Artistic Associate

I can’t help but brag about one of our superstar courageous leader Theatre Action Project students.  When TAP Artistic Associate, Keri Boyd and I first started touring Courage in Action last year, one student, a fifth-grader at Smith Elementary at the time, blew us away. On Day 3 of Courage in Action, students engage in “simulations.” Through role play, they practice making plans and taking action to solve problems that affect their lives. The imaginary situation: a group of elementary students were trying to persuade other students to help them launch a community garden at their school. Keri and I, as “devil’s advocates” so to speak, were asking students how exactly they would take the plan, plant, and tend for this garden. One student piped up, saying “I’ll do it! I’ll plant the seeds! I’ll water the garden! And then, I can weed! I can do it all!”

I don’t know if we truly believe that a lasting transformation happens with any one person acting all by themselves, but still… We left just so wowed by her conviction, we were talking about her for weeks. Read the rest of this entry

Check out the new Courage in Action video!

by Natalie Goodnow, Artistic Associate

Thank you to the students and teachers at Mathews Elementary, our CIA All-Star Campers, and especially to Marcelo Teson for helping us to tell this program’s story!

Courage in Action is a TAP in the Classroom Program:
Special Agents of Courage have a special mission for your students! By examining leaders such as Cesar Chavez, students learn to be courageous leaders and community organizers. On the final day of the program students are inducted as Agents and emerge with clear strategies for affecting positive change in their community.

Objective: To deepen a class’s understanding of being allies and leaders to their community.

For more information, click here.

A Resounding, “Yes”

by Brian C. Fahey, TAP in the Classroom Program Director

This morning I attended day one of our 5th grade program Courage in Action at Mathews Elementary School. As TAP in the Classroom Program Director, I usually spend a great deal of the morning out of the office on location at various elementary schools. Being able to witness the impact of our programs first hand is one of the many aspects of my job that I value the most.

On day one of Courage in Action the actor-teachers ask “Can kids change the world?” The moment comes during an exercise called Exploding Supernova. Students are asked to respond to a series of questions by placing themselves either close to the center of circle signifying “yes” or on the edge for “no.” Of course students can place themselves anywhere in between depending on how strongly they feel. Read the rest of this entry