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Kaiser Permanentes Educational Theatre Expands Programs in South LA Schools

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(Originally published on Kaiserpermanente.org)

Thanks to a partnership between the Los Angeles Unified School District and Kaiser Permanente, 16 elementary schools in South LA are receiving enhanced education, family support, and community resources from an innovative source live theatre.

The schools, which make up the district’s Jordan-Locke Network of schools, will receive Kaiser Permanente Educational Theatre’s elementary programs by 2020, potentially reaching more than 9,500 students and their families.

These interactive programs strive to help children and adults make informed decisions about their health and boost their social skills, both of which help build stronger communities. Each production includes a school assembly performance, followed by student and parent workshops.

“This is such an exciting opportunity to continue to strengthen our partnership with Los Angeles Unified School District to inspire students and families living in South Los Angeles to make healthy choices,” said Gerry Farrell, director, Educational Theatre.

Educational Theatre partners and consults with Kaiser Permanente Watts Counseling and Learning Center therapists on its family programs. Students and parents also receive follow-up educational and community resources from the center. Kaiser Permanente offers individual and family counseling, educational therapy, and college preparation courses at the center, which has provided a unique community service and commitment to South Los Angeles for more than 50 years.

“All our Jordan-Locke Network schools are heavily impacted and don’t have many resources,” said Luis Heckmuller, instructional director, Local South District. “This partnership brings resources and overall awareness about health and social issues to our community, reaching both parents and students.”

Enhancing children’s lives

Kaiser Permanente collaborates with Los Angeles’s school district to enhance children’s lives in the Jordan-Locke Network in other ways. As a follow-up to the conflict management program, Educational Theatre returned to Weigand Avenue Elementary with its “Beat the Odds” program for students and teachers. This program uses drumming to build social and emotional skills.

Educational Theatre also provided the 10-week program, “Eat. Play. Live.,” for parents and guardians at Barrett Elementary to provide them with tools and information to create healthier households and families.

A day of service

Additionally, Educational Theatre and Kaiser Permanente Watts Counseling and Learning Center staff volunteers helped to complete Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service beautification projects in recent years at Jordan-Locke Network campuses. These projects included creating murals at Weigand Elementary and a library at BarrettElementary.

This year’s MLK Day on January 21, 2019, featured something just as ambitious at 109th Street Elementary School: transforming a classroom into a new S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics) lab, and creating an outdoor garden with murals.

“The MLK Day projects are so uplifting,” Heckmuller said. “Kaiser Permanente is making it a priority to go to our underserved schools to provide services we otherwise would not have. Their ongoing commitment helps us create a more equitable community and for that we are very thankful.”

Check out this video for highlights of the 2018 Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service at Barrett Elementary School.

Educational Theatre is a free Kaiser Permanente Community Health program that helps grades K through 12 students and their families in at-risk communities develop healthy, lifelong habits.

Visit Community Health to learn more about Kaiser Permanente’s work in the community.

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