What do you do and how do you do it?

I instill social and emotional skills through dramatic/creative arts therapy. The goal is to use the arts to introduce skill sets to the participants internally and externally, so that they can have fun during the process. I use current evidence based Florida reading, theater and social-emotional standards. I treat each individual site based on the needs of both the customer (i.e. the adults who hired me) as well as my students (needs/wants of the students on topics of interest, games, etc.). From there I implement a 4 phase approach which includes: 1) incorporating a topic such as self-respect, 2) dissecting its meaning with the students, 3) reading a quote or short story about it, and 4) encouraging the students to act out or write a speech explaining their personal definition of it. Theater games are also used to enhance their creativity and support quick thinking, while ensuring that when they speak they are mindful of our norms such as projection and making eye contact.

What is the problem you are trying to solve?

My organization addresses is the lack of social-emotional development/skills displayed in school age children through dramatic therapy. This issue contributes to crime and delinquency as youth struggle to express themselves in a positive/productive manner. By introducing public speaking skills and confidence in this area, students are given tools to engage in healthy communication. The primary populations served are residents of Miami and Fort Lauderdale who lack consistent access to the arts or exposure to resources. Studies show that access to the arts has strong effects on social-emotional development as well as levels of creativity, reading/writing skills. Personal observation also confirms this.

How do you define success for your organization?

Success for me is less about quantity, and more about quality. My program is individualized to the site I am working and each student, because every student does not struggle with the same thing.Some students are confident individually already but may struggle when I have them work on team activities making skits, so being able to see them grow in working with other people and maintaining their confidence is success (a part of my social-emotional aspect). While I have some students who refused to speak in a room, all of sudden speaking in front of a room full of people and confident is their success. I measure each students growth and identify individual goals.Quantitatively the goal is that 70% of my students increase in their confidence , their knowledge of public speaking and social-emotional awareness (from survey’s/assessments given beginning, mid, and post instruction).