Holy Cross Parish
The seasonal Children’s Theater program at Chicago's Holy Cross offers community young people an opportunity to discover and explore their creative potential and to increase their self-esteem while learning positive values and life skills.
Arts programs like the Children’s Theater create positive change for youth across from all socio-economic backgrounds, but they play a unique role in communities plagued by violence and poverty. Arts programs help deter at-risk youth from drugs, gangs, and the juvenile justice system while reducing truancy and building communication, and job skills.
The Children’s Theater program gives 1st through 8th graders the opportunity to reenact popular scenes from the Bible that teach peace, generosity, and love. As the young people learn their lines and rehearse their parts, the leaders of the program have multiple opportunities to help them develop models for positive life choices through active discussions about the issues in the plays.
Though the program operates on a limited seasonal basis, collaborating to perform in front of an audience teaches the young people valuable social skills. Their public speaking ability and self-confidence grow as they rehearse and perform. The actors also gain a sense of accountability and teamwork.
The Children’s Theater gives students other opportunities to increase their cultural knowledge and social skills by organizing field trips to art-related sites around Chicago. Showing these kids the world outside of the Back of the Yards neighborhood, where 36% of residents live below the poverty line and the unemployment rate is double the rest of the country, motivates them to set new goals for themselves.