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Essential Life Skills – Drama

Doncaster is one of the Department of Education’s Opportunity Areas and as part of this, darts has been working with pupils from across Doncaster as part of EXPECT Youth’s Essential Life Skills programme.

The programme seeks to develop skills and positive traits, such as confidence and communication, in children and young people aged 5-18, whilst they’re also having a fantastic time. The project is primarily targeted at children facing economic disadvantage, so that they will not miss out on the opportunities that their more affluent peers may have.

As one of a number of delivery organisations collaborating on the project, darts has been delivering drama workshops in primary schools across the borough, using drama to explore attitudes and approaches to life – not lecturing but instead using positive and fun-filled activities to encourage children to arrive at their own learning destination. For example, one child, offered up this sage advice to his fictional, trouble-making friend: “If you carry on down this route your life will be bad. This is your chance to change it. Take it.”

Offering advice to a fictional misbehaving mate was just one of the many challenging life situations made accessible to children through the drama exercises, enabling children and young people to practice real life scenarios to support future decision-making and make them more confident as they become more independent.

Other themes tackled include law and order, the importance of empathy, and teamwork. But the most important aspect of the workshops is enabling children and young people to learn about themselves: boosting their self-confidence, resilience, and motivation.

The feedback we receive has been overwhelmingly positive, from children, teachers and support staff and the artists themselves. Children who began the sessions shy and closed-off soon came out of their shell and really enjoyed themselves, not only engaging in the activities but developing genuine empathy and an improved ability to listen and communicate. One support worker told an artist she had “inspired me to do more group work,” and a teacher told one artist, “I just wanted to say that I thought that was brilliant, thank you!”

The children of one school even made their artist a gift outside of their sessions, which was a bouquet of flowers made from their hand prints which lots of positive messages about how much they had enjoyed the workshops, and about how much they had learned!

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