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Grant Spotlight: RESPECT

Organization’s Name: RESPECT

Mission: Building healthy relationships using theatre and community collaboration.

Funded Program Description: RESPECT offers educational theatre programs, led and performed by our Actor-Educators to students of all ages. Starting with the youngest, our PreK to Kindergarten program, Puppy Pals, focuses on identifying emotions, respecting diversity, and treating others kindly. These students learn how to make friends and how to “stop and think.” We have 12 other programs directed toward K-12 students, college students, and adults that address many important topics like bullying, internet safety, healthy and unhealthy touch, peer pressure, suicide prevention, teen dating violence, and so forth. Our dating violence program, Cracked but Not Broken, also has a college version available. With regards to bullying, it’s such a pervasive and complex issue that we have several programs that address its many different facets. For example, Scraps focuses on social bullying: the bullying that can occur within friendships or when relationships are used to hurt other people. Between the Lines addresses multiple forms of bullying: verbal, physical, social, and cyber. And Standing Up focuses on bullying that uses gay slurs to hurt others regardless of whether they identify as LGBTQ+. These programs also focus on the power bystanders can have in helping targets in these situations. All of our programs are paired with panel or group interactions led by community professionals and our actor-educators.

RESPECT also participates in multi-week after-school programs, teaching students skills related to coping, problem solving, seeking help, identifying big emotions, supporting friends, and healthy ways of communicating with people who are “different” and those with whom we have disagreements.

We also provide both one-time workshops, like Jump into ACTion, and Direct With RESPECT, and multi-session Artist in Residence Programs. These customized workshops allow students to use theatre activities and roleplay as they are presented with different scenarios and rework those scenes into kinder, safer, and healthier choices that build positive relationships. Schools and other child-serving organizations are offered the opportunity to select scenarios from RESPECT’s roleplay directory so that we can provide highly interactive workshops designed to meet the needs of their specific group.

RESPECT also attends mental-health professionals conferences as often as possible. There we provide workshops on how to use roleplay to facilitate conversations with students about mental health topics. For example, last fall, thanks to funding from The Kim Foundation, we were able to attend the Nebraska School Counselor Association’s conference in Kearney, Nebraska. There we held very well-received workshops and had a booth to provide attendees with information about RESPECT and how they can bring our programming to their schools.

Though many of our programs are hosted in Omaha, we regularly provide programming to child-serving organizations in other cities like Lincoln, Bellevue, and Elkhorn. We encourage anyone in Nebraska and Iowa to book with us, and we will gladly travel to their location. Most recently, we visited Iowa Western Community College to present a workshop on suicide prevention to students, staff, and residential advisors.

Successes of Program or Inspirational Stories: We work hard to do the best possible work and make a real difference in the lives and relationships of audience participants. And our audiences overwhelmingly agree!

Examples of feedback from staff at hosting locations:

  • Iowa Western Community College (Suicide Prevention Workshop): “We are so grateful for the workshop that RESPECT put on at IWCC.  Their performance was engaging and informative!  The students not only learned, but enjoyed it so much they requested a return visit for RA trainings.  Having RESPECT present in the format that they do, makes it easier to talk about the difficult subjects including suicide prevention.  Because of their performance, our staff and students are better prepared to assist others who are facing difficult situations.  The clinical staff and actors were truly amazing! Thank you, again!”
  • UNK (Intimate Partner Violence Program): “I loved how interactive the role playing & conversation part at the end. I felt like this is a great opportunity to dive deeper with students and staff members about mental health. Thank you for all that you do!”
  • Lothrop Elementary (Internet safety and cyberbullying program): “Thank you for coming to our school! Our students enjoyed the performance but also understood the “why” behind the Navigators in Cyberspace!”
  • Lothrop Elementary (Child abuse/sexual abuse prevention program): “What I liked best was the interaction with the students and the message that was delivered. Thanks for sharing such an important message with our students!”
  • Girls Inc. (Artist in Residence Program): “So glad to have RESPECT back at Girls Inc.!”

Examples of feedback from student comment/question cards:

  • “You guys are really good actors! Great job” (Middle School)
  • “Good show, taught me lots.” (Middle School)
  • “Awesome show! :)” (Middle School)
  • “RESPECT, please come back. I really appreciate you and your facility. Thank you for all your help.” (Elementary School)
  • “One thing I plan to use is to stand up for people.” (Elementary School)
  • “The most important thing I learned was don’t make fun of people who have health problems/disabilities. Thank you for coming to our school.” (Elementary School)

Other Comments: RESPECT is so grateful to have the support of the Kim Foundation. In the past year, with funds provided by our Kim Foundation grant, RESPECT has been able to provide over 40 programs to more than 1700 participants. These programs provide participants with information about healthy relationships and personal (physical and emotional) boundaries, and how to protect these for one’s self and one’s peers. RESPECT programs demonstrate strategies, problem-solving processes, and empathy building, with opportunities for students to rehearse, practice and model those skills. And we also provide community resources, like The Kim Foundation, which are available to students, their teachers, and parents. Learning through observation, participation, interactions, and conversations are important ways in which RESPECT teaches skills that help build healthy minds and relationships.

There are so many other ways in which The Kim Foundation supports our mission at RESPECT: the training they provide to our staff on an annual basis; the opportunity they provide us to network at the EmPOWER Youth Summit; the personal support they provide when our own staff need mental health resources; and the materials and information they share with us throughout the year that we in turn can share with our participants. We cannot adequately express how much it means to us at RESPECT, having The Kim Foundation as a community partner. Thank you!

Contact Information:
Cara Neufeld
Program and Development Manager