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Kaiser Permanente’s Educational Theatre Expands Programs in South LA Schools

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Thanks to a partnership between the Los Angeles Unified School District and Kaiser Permanente Southern California, 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, will receive Kaiser Permanente Educational Theatre’s elementary programs by 2020, potentially reaching more than 9,500 students and their families. 

The interactive programs strive to help children and adults make informed decisions about their health and boost their social skills, building 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 LAUSD to inspire students and families living in South Los Angeles to make healthy choices,” said Gerry Farrell, director, Educational Theatre, Kaiser Permanente Southern California. 

  • Literacy Promotion “Jay and E and the ZigZag Sea” (grades K-2): A boy who fears reading sets out on a bold journey to save story-time and prevent the book, “E,” from being forever unread.  
  • Conflict Management “It’s Stop Time” (grades 3-5): Students find themselves in a magical room where they must literally fight time and figure out a way to get along, or risk staying in detention indefinitely.
  • Healthy Eating “The Amazing Food Detective: Game On” (grades 4-5): Students who attempt to rescue their professor trapped inside his own video game must make healthy food choices and exercise if they hope to return to the real world. 

Educational Theatre partners and consults with Kaiser Permanente Watts Counseling and Learning Center (WCLC) 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 WCLC, 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, Los Angeles Unified School District, 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 the Los Angeles Unified 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 the “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/guardians at Barrett Elementary to equip them with tools and information to create healthier households and families.

Additionally, Educational Theatre and Kaiser Permanente Watts Counseling and Learning Center staff volunteers helped to complete recent Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service beautification projects at Jordan-Locke Network campuses. These projects included creating murals at Weigand and a library at Barrett elementary schools. This year’s MLK Day on Jan. 21 featured something just as ambitious: 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, at 109th Street Elementary School. 

“The MLK Day projects are so uplifting,” said Luis Heckmuller, instructional director, Los Angeles Unified School District, Local South District. “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 K-12 students and their families in at-risk communities develop healthy, lifelong habits.

Visit https://community.kp.org to learn more about Kaiser Permanente’s work in the community.