Donations so far:  $5,000

Loving Me Via the Lens™ is a Creative Photography and Performance Arts Program that is designed to teach youth alternative ways to view themselves and the communities that they live, work and play in. In order for them to make this transition they would need to be built up through exercises that yield self-esteem, self-efficacy, character, entrepreneurial and communication skills. The direct result of this would then build Social/Emotional Development Standards that match the Illinois Learning Standards requirements in order to be a collaborating factor to better our communities’ one child at a time.

 

Here are some quick points about the program:

A creative afterschool program that teaches builds and promotes self-esteem, character building, entrepreneurship and public speaking skills while learning basic photography
Mirrors the premise and goals of the Common Core State Standards
Promotes Social/Emotional Development Standards
Teaches the ability to practice expressing positive feelings about others along with handling pressure situations (e.g., taking a test, participating in a competitive activity, bullying)
Based off of Highly Scientific Research concerning youth learning through the Arts.
It is in direct correlation of the Illinois PBIS (Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports) process and at least three of its Four Elements (Social Competence and Academic achievement, Supporting decision making and supporting student behavior)
Services participants ages 10-19 in a 32-week program
Utilizes the mixture of all behavioral Instructional Learning Theories to give a comprehensive learning structure
Students walk away with not only lifelong lessons but a camera through parental monthly help
We showcase the student’s hard work: One Finale Gallery per school year that combines all participating students at one locationThis program gives back to the community: Proceeds from Finale Gallery goes to a charity/school chosen by participants for each location

My Last Party™ uses participative workshops with theatre performance and an excellent support structure to promote positive mental health, suicide prevention in order to challenge the stigmas and myths around mental health. The project would be run in collaboration with an area ran mental health agency. My Last Party™ incorporates three main components: the workshop, the performance of My Last Party™ and a support structure. A school or community organization can utilize the workshop and/or performance. The performance workshop is ran and performed by the students under the supervision of the My Last Party™ Staff. This is a way for the youth to develop a stronger awareness of the issues and coping mechanisms through theater and performance arts experience.

Each workshop offers an introduction to issues around positive mental health and suicide prevention, looking at some common myths and facts about suicide, exploring life stresses and positive coping mechanisms and signs for suicidal intent and how to take action. The subjects are explored through active participation in theatre exercises and monologues. A trained drama facilitator delivers the workshops working in partnerships with a qualified counsellor who is also in attendance. In addition to the workshop conducted by The R.E.E.C.H. Project, follow-up workshops are available from the collaborated mental health agency.

The performance of My Last Party™ in schools consists of 8 monologues adapted from the experiences of those who have lost loved ones to suicide and from the experiences of students who have been through a suicidal crisis and survived. The entire process from writing, auditioning, directing and performing is taught. This gives the youth involved an opportunity to use positive interactions and expression as well as the knowledge of theater from behind the stage. Once the show actually goes up, the performances run for forty-five minutes with each performance followed by a post-show discussion with a counsellor and invited guest speakers. At the end, conversations are encouraged to explore what the youth think about what has been viewed.

In keeping with best practice, a support structure is in place for the workshops and performances. A representative from The R.E.E.C.H. Project meets with the school prior to the workshop taking place to discuss elements of the project and related resource material.

An information pack including a leaflet on the mental health, suicide awareness and prevention as well as The R.E.E.C.H. Project and it includes a list of support agencies and their contact information. Also included is a workshop evaluation form to be completed and returned to The R.E.E.C.H. Project.

Drama is a proven effective way of giving youth the ability to ask very real questions on the ever expanding issues that surround suicide and self-harm. Using dramatic personalization’s means, they can focus their attention and thoughts on the character instead on their own personal experience. This will allow for open dialogue and conversation. The use of monologues is extremely effective in expressing the multitude of feelings experienced by those bereaved by suicide and of those with suicidal thoughts.

Workshops ...

Whether its a workshop about suicide with students, parents, teachers or the community at large; The R.E.E.C.H. Project aims to not only serve, but to educate the community on suicide, bullying, career readiness, business startup and a gamut of other educational programs; that are geared towards building, strengthening and encouraging you and family units as a whole. We believe if you build the self-esteem, character, strength and financial status of an individual you ultimately change their lives and the communities they live and work in. We plan to "Improve Lives and Change Futures" ONE individual at a time.