KPSC Educational Theatre Celebrates 30 Years of Promoting Good Health
This March, Kaiser Permanente Educational Theatre (ET) celebrates 30 years of serving Southern California communities.
This March, Kaiser Permanente Educational Theatre (ET) celebrates 30 years of serving Southern California communities through performing arts-based programs that inspire children, teens, and adults to make informed decisions about their health.
On Monday, March 21, ET hosted a special event at the Pasadena Convention Center to celebrate their 30th anniversary with special guests including principals from two local schools, community members, Kaiser Permanente Southern California leaders, and staff from ET, the regional offices and service areas.
To set the festive mood, Gerry Farrell, director, Kaiser Permanente Southern California Educational Theatre, opened the event with a short video. It showcased some of ET’s earliest recorded performances through some of their more current offerings, illustrating the depth and evolution of their work through the decades.
ET is a free Kaiser Permanente Community Benefit program. It serves K-12 students and their families in at-risk communities, using live theatre to help them develop healthy lifelong habits. ET offers six unique programs that address the upstream determinants that impact good health, including violence in our communities, literacy, STD prevention, and good nutrition. Over the last 30 years, ET has reached over 6.7 million people.
“The work [ET] did in Santa Ana is remarkable,” said Patrick Yrarrazaval-Correa, former principal, Valley High School in Santa Ana, California. “Helping students avoid STDs and early pregnancies is the greatest gift,” he added. “Our pregnant and parenting classes’ population dropped by 20% at Valley High, and the ET programs reached over 40,000 students and parents in Santa Ana.”
ET relies on community health needs assessments to inform the educational content of its programs and regularly adapts scripts to address the most pressing social issues. The programs are developed by theatre professionals in collaboration with health educators, community advisory committees, and Kaiser Permanente physicians.
In 2015, ET rolled out their newest performance, “It’s Stop Time,” which teaches students conflict management skills and techniques for transforming conflict into positive change. An in-class student workshop and a family presentation called “One Minute” support this program’s educational goals.
“My students have enjoyed presentations on conflict management, nutrition, and literacy,” Sister Stacy Reineman, principal, Nativity Catholic School in El Monte said at the celebration. “I thank all the actors who have blessed us with their talents for the last 15 years.”
At one point during the event, the actor-educators gathered on stage to share stories that illustrated the positive impact the programs have had, not only on the students’ lives, but also on their own lives.
They were then joined on stage by Edward Ellison, MD, executive medical director & chairman of the board, Southern California Permanente Medical Group and Benjamin K. Chu, MD, MPH, president, Kaiser Permanente Southern California. Dr. Chu comically shared his single “ET acting experience” with the audience. “The spotlight was on me. The crowd was going wild. I waited by the phone for nine years. I was never cast again. They say that for every light in Walnut Center there is a broken executive’s dream.”
Joking aside, Dr. Chu noted, “When you think about how we influence lives in different ways, it is almost as important as the one-on-ones in the doctor’s office.”
The evening ended with a dynamic drumming session with the audience joining in.
Theatre is a powerful medium. Studies show that people relate emotionally, psychologically and mentally to characters played by real people better than they relate to words on a page. ET uses the imagination, interaction and immediacy of theatre to empower and inspire audiences through stories and modeling of positive behavior. To learn more about Kaiser Permanente’s Educational Theatre, click here to visit their website.