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A teary-eyed mom popped into our youth theater office, as we looked at each other wondering what she was going to complain about. “Oh dear, here we go” we thought collectively.

“I just want to tell you that you have created a miracle,” she began.  “My boy is in 6th grade and he has never quite fit in—sort of a nerd you know—then you cast him as the lead in Oliver.  By the way, what were you thinking?  He has never acted before!”

“How did that go for him?” we asked carefully, still wondering where this was heading.

“He loves it!  He has become the celebrity of his school.  All the kids treat him as if he is famous, even asking for his autograph!  He is a completely different boy, and so happy with life!  I cannot express my thanks to you and your director! We prayed for a miracle for him, and you delivered!”**

A year after this, he was cast again as the lead in Broadway Palms’ version of Oliver.  The boy could act!

This is simply a typical example of what youth theater and performing arts can do for kids. Research has shown that children’s brains grow better cognitively, emotionally, socially, collaboratively and neurologically when they are involved in performing arts!  They also show increased retention, confidence and independent thinking. (see www.jensenlearning.com/news/why arts should be in every school)

Life is all about growing and expanding who we are as humans.  Who would not want to encourage the creative thinking and problem-solving side of ourselves? Now is the time to get your children involved in maximizing their potential.  Offer them performing arts opportunities early!

**The Director was Marcus Ellsworth, new Drama Teacher at Heritage Maricopa, who served as Executive Artistic Director and founder of Actors Youth Theater in the East Valley, producing 5+ shows a year since 2001, being awarded countless Zoni Awards for outstanding Youth Theater in Arizona.  He also currently directs for Chandler-Gilbert Community College.

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