Kaiser Grant Funds Honolulu Theatre For Youth Production, SHHHHH, At HeadStart Preschools

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Kaiser Grant Funds Honolulu Theatre For Youth Production, SHHHHH, At HeadStart Preschools

An audience of Head Start preschoolers at Blanche Pope Elementary School in Waimanalo got a lesson on listening with a special Honolulu Theatre for Youth performance of "Shhhhh" today. Written and directed by local children's playwright Annie Cusick Wood, the original educational theater production featured performances by HTY company actors Serina Dunham and Matthew Mazzella, and was funded by a $30,000 community benefit grant from Kaiser Permanente.

"Shhhhh" teaches children about the importance of listening to others as well as listening to themselves. It also explores how children can find their own voice and gain the courage to speak up, as well as learn to enjoy silence. The grant funded performances to more than 7,500 preschoolers and elementary school students statewide this year, as well as interactive workshops and school visits from HTY to integrate the play's concepts of listening into educational theater lessons.

"Educational theater introduces children to the arts at a young age and teaches important concepts in a way that's fun and engaging," said Becky Dunning, Managing Director of Honolulu Theatre for Youth. "We're grateful for our partnership with Kaiser Permanente and Head Start that allows us to bring original productions to the stage and involve children in the joy of live theater."

"Learning how to manage feelings, listen and speak up at an early age is critical for our children's emotional and behavioral health," said Dave Underriner, president of Kaiser Foundation Hospitals and Health Plan, Hawaii Region. "We're proud to support HTY's educational theater program, which helps thousands of keiki develop healthy habits that will last a lifetime."

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