I have written about the wonderful learning opportunities presented through our Prelude Program, and though I haven't shared all of my stories yet, I hope you are able to ascertain the great potential of the program. I am currently working with the Youth Leadership Program at the Brighton Center in Newport and that involves a bit of tweaking to Prelude to ensure that it works well within the constricts of an after-school drop-in program. While that presents certain challenges, I can handle minor adjustments. So why is this project particularly newsworthy? It's because of the topic about which the students have chosen to write their play: teenage pregnancy. The catch? Many of these kids aren't even teenagers yet, they are the infamous 'tweens, and yet this topic was chosen almost unanimously.
And so I am currently walking a fine, fine line of encouraging honest and frank discussion and expression within the limits of responsibility and social awareness. Despite this, the process is going smoothly thus far (let's all knock on some wood now!), and I can only hope that this will continue now that the parents have received a letter from me explaining the program and the process we are going through.
So how do you walk the line without crossing it? We're not even discussing the pro-choice, pro-life issue, nor are we discussing adoption vs. keeping the baby. We are focusing solely on the characters and the immediate effect this situation has on all of their lives. The result is a piece that explores responsibility, choices and consequences, gossip, and friendship. I hope the kids will be happy with the results, because this is really supposed to be about what THEY want to say about teenage pregnancy, which, it turns out, is quite a lot. It is the aspects of this situation that don't get as much airtime as the heavyweight elephants in the room that these kids want to mention: parental support, the role of the boy, the reaction of teachers, coaches, and classmates, and staying in school. Fascinating conversation, don't you think?