April 30, 2010

Youth Educate Youth About Cyber-Bullying


The Changing Lives Youth Theatre Ensemble
Finale performance of "Perhaps Tomorrow"
Thursday, May 6th
7pm, Free and open to the public
The Griffin School, 710 East 41st Street, Austin, TX.


RSVP and become TAP's Facebook fan!


The Changing Lives Youth Theatre Ensemble is a program that TAP and SafePlace created in 2003 to address these social problems now, and to train leaders to generate solutions for the future. This program puts the powerful tools of peer education and theatre in the hands of youth who want to stop the cycles of domestic and dating violence.

"Perhaps Tomorrow" is the group's latest original play created to engage young people in dialogue about issues of cyber bullying, girl aggression, rumors, homophobia and dating relationships. The play models ways young people can support each other and stand up for what they believe is right.

"All these issues are what we see in our high schools; its normal but that doesn't mean it's right" said Remandra Crow, Youth Member of Changing Lives.

The 13 youth members from High Schools all over the Austin area are paid to create and perform their piece during their Spring tour of the Central Texas Area.

Since 2003, more than 15,000 people have seen the powerful performances of the Changing Lives Youth Theatre Ensemble.

"Come and see how our youth leaders have grown within the past year and help us celebrate their contribution to the community" said Nitra Gutierrez, Artistic Director of the group.

April 22, 2010

Celebrate Earth Day with your Family

Recycling Super Heroes!

This year marks the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. 20 million demonstrators participated in the first Earth Day. As you know I am a big advocate of starting family traditions – this is a perfect opportunity. As a family plant a tree, it doesn’t have to be big and expensive, start small and it will grow. Before planting your tree brainstorm with your family all the great benefits of planting a tree. Here are some ideas to get the ball rolling.

  • Each tree you plant will provide oxygen for two people for the rest of their lives.
  • ‘The planting of a tree is a gift you can make at almost no cost and trouble and it will far outlive the visible effect of any of your other actions, good or evil.’ So said Mr.1984, George Orwell.
  • Most often we plant trees to provide shade and beautify our landscapes. These are great benefits but trees also provide other less obvious benefits.
  • Trees make life nicer. It has been shown that spending time among trees and green spaces reduces the amount of stress that we carry around with us in our daily lives.
  • Hospital patients have been shown to recover from surgery more quickly when their hospital room offered a view of trees.
  • Even though you may own the trees on your property your neighbors may benefit from them as well.
  • Through careful planning trees can be an asset to your entire community.
  • Tree lined streets have a traffic calming effect, traffic moves more slowly and safely.
  • Trees offer many environmental benefits.
  • Trees give off oxygen that we need to breathe.
  • Trees helps clean our air.

I promise that your children will continue to talk about your family tree long after you’ve finished planting.

Local Earth Day activities:

Join TAP in celebration at Art City Austin on Saturday from 11am-5pm and make a tile for The Neighborhood Project and/or at The Paramount to make recycled instruments before and after the Biscuit Brothers performances at 2pm and 4:30pm.

More events here: http://www.austinearthday.com/

More information on how to help the environment for kids: http://www.epa.gov/kids/

Until next time,


Julie Flores (Parent/Teacher/Child Advocate/TAP volunteer)

April 20, 2010

Meet TAP's Teaching Artists


Remember Rumpelstilskin? He’s the strange, dwarfish creature who agrees to help the miller’s daughter spin straw into gold in exchange for her jewelry and first-born child. Things work out for the miller’s daughter, who becomes a queen, and not so well for Rumpelstilskin, who is cheated out of his final payment once the miller’s daughter correctly guesses his name. Enraged, he gets one of literature’s great exit scenes, flying away on a cooking spoon, never to be seen or heard from again.

What does this have to do with TAP? Well, I was recently reminded of Rumpelstilskin’s ability to spin straw into gold as I watched Aron and Ignacio, two of TAP’s fabulous teaching artists (TAs), prepare for the Friday class they co-teach at Booker T. Washington, a City of Austin Housing Authority site just up the road from the TAP office. Using nothing but some cardboard scraps, a couple of box cutters, and some Elmer’s Glue, they whipped up a couple of seriously cool masks to use as examples for that day’s art project in a matter of minutes. I wish I could show you what those masks look like, but the fact of the matter is that kind of alchemy (in other words, a literal changing of straw into gold) happens so regularly at TAP that I didn’t think to take a photo.


The creativity of our TAs is nothing short of astonishing. They are all artists—actors, sculptors, dancers, photographers, musicians, muralists, drummers, filmmakers, and poets— and their distinct and diverse talents are what make TAP’s after-school and in-school programming so special. Here is some more information about some of our TAs. As you’ll see, each of them is every bit as talented as Rumplestilskin (and infinitely better-looking, too!):



Name: Amy

Schools: Wells Branch, Wooldrige, Union Hill

Superpowers: filmmaking, directing, owning a cute dog










Name: Andy

Schools: Hart, Gardner-Betts

Superpowers: recruiting, directing, dealing with difficult school situations, generally being sunshine-y






Name: Aron

Schools: Barrington, Booker T Washington

Superpowers: lesson planning, building things, storytelling, responding to emails










Name: Ashley

Schools: Houston, Barton Creek

Superpower: teaching professionalism and dedication through dance







Name: Boone

Schools: all

Superpowers: animation, gardening, recording, subbing











Name: Christina

Schools: Bluebonnet Trail

Superpower: teaching World Theatre, giving 100%, design, interviewing, photography








Name: Emily

Schools: Oak Meadows

Superpowers: printing, drawing, poetry, sculpture










Name: Erin

School: Harris

Superpowers: classroom management, hearing every student’s voice


Name: Frank

Schools: Norman, Bluebonnet

Superpowers: lesson planning, providing student-centered learning










Name: Ignacio

Schools: Wooten, Booker T. Washington

Superpowers: building, bicycling, Spanish







Name: J

Schools: Manor New Tech, Manor MS

Superpowers: making murals, overcoming obstacles, bringing snacks to Elizabeth and Flo






Name: Jessica

Schools: Pecan Springs

Superpowers: drawing, being the queen of teachable moments










Name: Jessica

Schools: Winn, Langford

Superpowers: hitting the ground running, using students’ ideas, giving 100% every day









Name: Jessica

Schools: Decker Elementary, Anderson Mill

Superpowers: working with kids of all ages (especially girls), modeling respect, crafting super-creative lesson plans









Name: Kai

Schools: Manor HS

Superpower: filmmaking










Name: Katie

School: Webb MS

Superpowers: positive outlook, sense of humor, mad beanbag sewing skills










Name: Kelsey

Schools: Berkman, Bluebonnet Trail

Superpowers: creative drama, lesson planning, energy, working with K-2










Name: Lauren

School: Bluebonnet Trail

Superpowers: subbing AND teaching—yowza!










Name: Lindsay

Schools: Perez

Superpowers: sculpture, sewing, crafting, subbing







Name: Lucia

School: Decker MS

Superpowers: filmmaking








Name: McArthur

Schools: Pecan Springs, Decker

Superpowers: determination, hard work







Name: Michael

Schools: Voigt, Oak Springs

Superpowers: writing, student recognition, classroom management, working with older kids, wearing bowties









Name: Minerva

Alias: Miss Minnie

Schools: Mendez, Barton Creek, Perez

Superpowers: classroom management, being welcoming and accepting









Name: Miranda

Schools: Ridgetop, Robertson, Presidential Meadows

Superpowers: puppet-making, improv, writing, Spanish, working with K-2










Name: Nain

Schools: Houston

Superpowers: green thumb, bilingual teaching










Name: Naomi

School: Oak Meadows

Superpowers: flamenco, ballet folklorico, trying new things






Thanks so much to ALL of our TAs (yes, there are even more of them) for their incredible work!!


The end.


Author: Elizabeth Kohout, VISTA Programs Assistant