By BABATUNDE ASIFAT

Trainee Reporter Nevis

Forty youngsters selected from Nevis schools last week learnt performing arts skills, enabling them to create and pass on messages of social issues that affect their lives.

The children aged 12 – 15 years showcased their skills at the end of the training.

The one-week long skill building workshop which ran from May 14 to 18 was facilitated by Jennifer Tyler (Education Associate) and Jasmin Robinson (Director for Education) of the Florida(USA) based Hippodrome State Theatre Teen Improvisational Theatre (HITT).

Speaking at the orientation ceremony, Judy Acher, a youth officer with the department of Social Development, Nevis told the youngsters that education entertainment played a leading role in communicating messages.

HIV/AIDS was one of the issues that the youngsters focused on during the skills building workshop. Acher told the youth, “HIV/AIDS impacts us all. It is an important social issue.”  The youngsters were taught through participatory methods to create skits, plays, dances and other forms of performing arts to pass on messages. Acher is also an accomplished actress, drama teacher and drama director.

Tyler told the youngsters what they would take them through was an issue based skill development process where participatory approaches would be used.

In April of 2005, three members of the HITT team began working with 47 Nevisian youth teaching HIV/AIDS education, and basic theatre techniques. The program also provided the students safe sex information, discussions about healthy relationships and how they can better utilize their local resources. The program culminated with a performance for local officials, parents and community members.

The students worked to create, rehearse and perform scenes addressing the critical issues of HIV/AIDS, safe sex, abstinence and healthy relationships. In addition, two students sang the Nevis national anthem, several more performed a dance number and one student wrote an original song about the effects of HIV/AIDS. All of these elements created an outstanding performance.

Nevis Health Planner, Nicole Slack-Liburd said the event was challenging, rewarding and inspiring and mentioned that its experiences like these that truly show how important theatre arts are in the growth and education of our youth. She acknowledged that HITT is widely recognized as one of the most effective arts-based prevention/intervention programs.