With teenagers across the country facing an ever-growing list of challenges—from drug and alcohol abuse to bullying and self-esteem issues—Downers Grove high school counselors think it's the perfect time to spark a new way of thinking for students and their parents.
On Thursday night, District 99 will host "Stand Up! Change Teen Statistics," a live musical theater production that tackles themes related to bullying, mental health, substance abuse and relationship issues that affect high school students.
"Stand Up!" is written by professionals from the R.Ed.I. (Reach, Education and Inspire) Foundation, a music theater organization dedicated to prevention education through the use of performing arts. The show travels to high schools across the state, and has been recognized by the Illinois Arts Council and the Illinois Department of Family Services.
"We've been talking a lot as a district about ways to address some of these topics in a relevant, interesting way, so it will really have an impact on students," said Kristin Bormann, student assistance coordinator at Downers Grove South. "We came across 'Stand Up!' and kept hearing about all the positive feedback the show gets, so we thought it would be a great fit for our schools, too."
The 45-minute performance features a troupe of young adults ages 18 to 25 acting out real-life scenarios—an idea that appealed to District 99 counselors as they were considering the musical earlier this year.
"I think one of the reasons this show resonates with students is that it's relatable," said Keith Bullock, student assistance coordinator at North High School. "All the skits are based on things that our kids might actually be going through, and they're performed by students who aren't much older than them."
"Stand Up!" will be performed for all students at North and South high schools during school Thursday. From 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., a free performance will be held for parents and community members at South High, 1436 Norfolk St.
Bormann and Bullock said the show was planned in conjunction with Red Ribbon Week, a national campaign scheduled for Oct. 23-31 that encourages students to make healthy choices and abstain from drug and alcohol use.
Although Bormann and Bullock said Downers Grove has been "fortunate" not to have any major issues with drugs or severe bullying, both schools have been actively discussing ways to revamp prevention education in the community.
"We face the same challenges that most high schools face, but thankfully we don't have one over-arching concern," Bullock said. "I think we're concerned with the trends we're seeing across the nation, and want to find new ways to reach kids and improve the culture of both schools. It's all about teaching them to make positive, healthy choices."
On Oct. 16, teachers will integrate the lessons from "Stand Up!" into their Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports curriculum. Using the acronym "R.Ed.I," students will be tought to focus on four things: Recognize (who or what is pulling you down), Environment (surround yourself with positive people), Discuss (talk to someone you trust) and Involve (get involved in something new).
"Our hope is that the show will get students thinking, and will inspire them to make positive changes in their lives," Bullock said.
Bormann said the show also contains important messages for adults.
"Now more than ever, I think it's important for parents to see what types of issues their kids are facing, and how they might be able to help," she said.
For more on the event, visit www.csd99.org.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
There are plenty of ways to keep up on Downers Grove news: