I was very fortunate as a child to grow up with all my physical and emotional needs met, but not all children are so lucky. The Center for Child Protection serves hundreds of children every year that have been the victims of abuse or trauma. The Center provides services to families in the aftermath of allegations a crime, by helping them with the court system and by providing educational programs through the Center.
Merlin Works has been working with them pro bono for several years, by hosting live shows for kids and foster families graduating the program. Seeing a live show, especially customized just for the children of the program, is something that the kids of The Center for Child Protection don’t get to experience often. The show featured The Known Wizards, the faculty troupe at Merlin Works Institute for Improvisation, and their friends volunteering their time for the cause.
If you speak to improv students you might hear several variations on a general theme of how improv has helped them in their lives. Improv can help everyone become more playful and less self conscious. Comedy in general reduces stress level and improves mental health, as many can attest to. Laughter is often called the best medicine, for people of all ages. Improv has given me a new pair of glasses to view the world through, something that everyone can use no matter your background or personal challenges.
Underprivileged youth are usually struggling to get their basic needs met, so encounters with the theatre and live production are probably rare for most youth in the Center’s program. Getting a chance to laugh together, celebrate and shine the spotlight on these graduates accomplishments is a treat for all involved.
In Webster’s Dictionary, improvising is defined as “to compose, recite, play, or sing extemporaneously”. Improvising comes naturally to most children who play with their toys or teens conversing with their friends. It doesn’t so much need to be taught, but unleashed. Giving children a forum to express themselves is essential if that child is going to find their voice in life. Seeing a Merlin Works show might just be something that a child from the Center needs in order to help the healing process. If nothing else, entertainment has been provided and a good time has been had by all.
The Center for Child Protection is on the right track to helping children cope with abuse. Volunteers are welcome at the Center for Child Protection, and improvisers can help by performing for the children and their families when the opportunity arises.
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