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Brainstorm Productions’ travelling theatre groups for schools have been captivating hundreds of thousands of children across Australia for thirty years. Here’s why. 

“Children need art and stories and poems and music as much as they need love and food and fresh air and play,” says Philip Pullman, children’s author and winner of the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award.

Picture books, and later, fiction form the bedrock of our childhood. Many of us not only remember the exact picture from a favourite book we read before bed as a child, we remember the thoughts and emotions we experienced at that time. Picking up the book years later is like looking into a crystal ball, and being sucked back into our past. It’s a direct link to who we were as kids.

Likewise, we hear a song on the radio we haven’t listened to since childhood, and we can recall every word, and can anticipate the next note. 

Theatre is the ultimate immersive art form, targeting every sense simultaneously. It makes complete sense then that the only memory I have of the Year Two split classroom is sitting in the audience at Ross Hill Public School, in Inverell, watching Brainstorm Productions’ H-Team. My memory typically isn’t that great, yet I remember the buttery colour of the room. Where I was sitting in relation to the rest of the kids. Where the teachers stood. The bright colours the actors wore. The words they spoke. The tunes they sang. How I felt at the time. Just as you recall key details about the absolutely best Christmas you ever had as a kid, Brainstorm’s primary school productions leave a strong imprint on your memory.

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One in four teenagers experience mental health issues. Around 550,000 young Australians between 16 and 24 live with anxiety and depression. Suicide is the leading cause of death for Australians aged between 15 and 24. 

High school years are fraught with real challenges, like exam stress, psychological and hormonal changes, and social changes. These challenges often precipitate mental illness.

Getting the right support for mental health issues is important. It is also important high school students get the tools and skills they need to face these problems, and cope with challenges more effectively. 

Research shows that deficits in problem-solving abilities lead to increases in depression and anxiety. Effective problem-solving skills help in both prevention and treatment of mental health issues.

In Brainstorm’s Wired, one adolescent deals with stress and overload, and the other with depression. The characters get the opportunity to choose their own adventure. One path leads to heightened emotional turmoil, and a feeling of losing control. When the characters take the alternative path, they find ways to address their challenges. The more a young person feels in control of their own life, and own their choices, the greater their resilience.

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School is back, after weeks of unstructured play, lounging around the swimming pool, and plunging into the ocean. Days with little to no structure are behind us, as parents prepare school lunches, and primary and secondary students pack their school bags, ready for school.

But how ready are students?

Associate Professor Stacey Walters, Associate Professor Leanne Lester and Professor Donna Cross suggest that transitioning into high school, or a new school can be a difficult time for some students.

According to their research, some of the key worries students have are:

how much homework they would have to complete

finding their way around or getting lost

classes being hard

unfamiliar teachers

and getting to class on time.

The Raising Children parenting website also suggests new students are worried about learning new routines, making new friends, and adjusting to increased workload.

So how can parents, teachers and educational theatre support young people starting at a new school for the first time, or transitioning into high school?

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Bullying is a difficult issue for schools everywhere. Research from the most recent Australian Bureau of Statistics ‘Census at Schools’ survey shows that bullying is now the #1 issue for Australian school kids, and with the average weekly time schoolchildren spend on a computer jumping from 3 hours in 2006 to 13 hours in 2013, there has been a correlating increase in kids struggling and falling victim to cyber bullying. 

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Technology and social media is all around us and can be used to great effect, however things can easily turn and you can’t always press “undo”. Brainstorm Productions has a range of cyber bullying programs that look at the risks and impacts of the world online on the very real world of primary school and high school students.

Posted by on in Alcohol Education

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This week marks the start of Schoolies Week for NSW and VIC, when thousands of school leavers with enjoy a week long holiday with friends to celebrate the end of high school. Of course, Schoolies Week is meant to be fun – after all that’s the whole point. But to have fun, it’s important to stay safe and knowing some of the precautions can help. 

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