Who teaches kids how not to take frustration out on other people? One healthy trend in Sacramento is Kaiser Permanente’s educational theater program, PEACE Signs, that uses drama to teach children how to resolve conflict without violence. According to the December 14, 2010 Sacramento Bee article, “Mom.me: Kaiser Permanente educational theater group tackles bullying on Northern California tour,” by Niesha Lofing, PEACE Signs, an educational theater program sponsored by Kaiser Permanente visited Dudley Elementary School in Antelope as part of its Northern California tour.
Also see the PDF file article, “Peace Signs: A Sustainable Violence Prevention, by J Fontanesi – 2004. Peace Educational Theater Group focuses on peer mediation and health education. The group is a preventive mental health collaboration between managed health care and school health programs. The theater group also attend various behavioral healthcare conferences. The group also is a model conflict resolution program that emphasizes building on the strengths of school health managed care.
You also can check out the website and programs of the American School Health Association. In Sacramento, it’s fascinating to know that in Sacramento this group is sponsored by Kaiser Permanente, a local HMO. The group visited Sacramento on their tour of the local area in order to give a performance for local elementary school children.
Sacramento can use more groups putting on plays or skits for school students that emphasize answers and solutions to problems, such as how to resolve conflict peacefully. This healthy trend helps to build stronger character, self-confidence, and a voice of resilience as students learn how to figure out ways to solve one of Sacramento’s biggest problems that children encounter in school and in their neighborhoods–how to resolve conflicts a ways they can be proud of, without violence. Perhaps as these children mature, they’ll apply the same solutions to problems of conflict and tend less to respond to invitations to escalate road rage they encounter in life.
For example, what do you do when someone steps on someone’s toe on a bus and the person thinks it’s you who did it and proceeds to stand up and belt you? Do you get off the bus and not look behind you? How would you respond when conflict is suddenly tossed at you for something you didn’t do or weren’t aware you did intentionally? Do you apologize if if you were not the person who overstepped boundaries? Or do you flee after getting punched on public transportation? Those are some of the encounters public school kids experience in a day’s commute to and from school.
PEACE Signs is one of five live, interactive productions that constitute Kaiser’s program. It focuses on teaching students how to resolve conflicts without violence. Most kids who experience the group’s drama productions learn how not to take out their frustrations from home or school on other people of any age. At least they learn what’s the right thing to do.
The PEACE Signs drama showcase is not for teens, but rather designed for third- through sixth-graders. It seems to represent peace signs rather than gang signs in its title. The drama group in its presentation follows four students facing challenging issues at home and school, including name-calling, bullying, domestic violence and the death of a sibling.
These are issues most Sacramento students face growing up. Interestingly, it’s Kaiser Permanente, the HMO that is behind this program of dramatic presentation to students in their schools. So in a way it falls under healthcare which can be a preventive measure in the way of more personalized medicine focused on behavior and responding to behavior that most kids encounter daily.
There’s a ‘briefing’ time before the performance directed to faculty. Before the curtain rises on the drama, teachers, principals and support staff members receive an orientation. Immediately following the show, students get an in-class ‘debriefing.’
There’s a follow-up period in the next few days where the performers go into classrooms and lead workshops for the students. It’s interactive at this point because when the performers are in the classrooms, students can practice conflict resolution techniques. This reinforces what they’ve learned from the performance.
This type of entertainment can be used for learning about healthy trends, such as resolving conflicts peacefully no matter how young you are. Students and their families also are invited back to the school that week. The family sits together at that time to see an evening encore presentation of the show and enjoy a free dinner.
All these treats reinforce the goal of this learning situation for good health–solving conflicts without letting your frustrations out on others. After all students and their families learn by example and habit. The idea is to get into the habit of solving conflicts peacefully. How many kids can re-direct their frustration on something besides other people they’re not afraid of–or the family pet? The idea is that reinforced drama teaching solutions to problems can remain in the minds of children for a long time and perhaps eventually get measureable results.