By Anastasha Elliott

Last Saturday afternoon more than 30 youths, ages 12 to15, hosted a Gala Artistic Presentation with the use of drama, dance and song at the Nevis Cultural Centre.

The presentations were based on the experiences of the youths, and each scenario was created by the youths as a means of expressing themselves.

The presentation was held to close a weeklong drama workshop facilitated by Jennifer Tyler and Christine Sellers of the Hippodrome State Theatre out of Florida.

Students, who signed up for the workshop, came from several faith based organisations, including the Seventh Day Adventist Pathfinder clubs, Legacy International, and from the Gingerland and Charlestown Secondary schools.

Andrea Nisbett, HIV/AIDS Programme co-ordinator for Nevis, explained that during workshop Tyler and Sellers educated the youths on some of the social issues — pregnancy, sexuality and HIV/AIDS — they faced.

The students were taught conflict resolutions skills, dealing with peer pressure, how to express and get around anger and frustration, responsibility, flexibility, adaptability, teamwork and other social skills.

Nisbett said the workshop was fun and would provide an opportunity for the youths to be creative in a positive way.

Sellers is the director of education at Hippo Drome State theatre. She has played featured roles in TV shows like Guiding Light and Law and Order.

They have both been with Hippo Drome for 10 years, and in addition to the workshop they taught at the Gingerland Secondary School. There they held discussions with the students on STD’s, decision-making, dealing with emotions, HIV/AIDS, pregnancy and conflict resolution.

Sellers works along with an education programme she called HITT — Hippo Drome Improvisation Team Theatre — that helps teens explore attitudes about critical issues they face daily through the use of improvisational scene work, educational games and group discussion.

She said the programme aims to increase specific protector factors such as social skills, responsibility, flexibility, teamwork, adaptability and self-esteem.

Both Tyler and Seller attempted to use impromptu theatre to teach and to provide the students with a creative outlet to deal with issues they faced.

This is the second year the Hippo Drome Drama training workshop has been held. Nisbett would like the workshop to become a permanent fixture in the island’s HIV/AIDS outreach programme.

“It is one way of expanding our outreach programme to the youths and getting them involved in things outside of school,” Nisbett said.

The workshop was sponsored by the Florida Association for Volunteer Action in the Caribbean and America, PAHO, Hippo Drome and the HIV/AIDS unit on Nevis.  Hippo Drome has been in existence for more than 20 years.