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Laguna Playhouse 'Our Stories' Program Receives Vital Funding From Bank Of America

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Laguna Playhouse launched the Our Stories program the beginning of 2020.

Laguna Playhouse 'Our Stories' Program Receives Vital Funding From Bank Of America

Laguna Playhouse has received support from the Bank of America for the Our Stories program for the second consecutive year.

Laguna Playhouse launched the Our Stories program the beginning of 2020. This vital program targets underserved individuals, primarily Transitional Age Youth (TAY) 16 - 24, who have experienced dire life experiences such as homelessness, domestic violence, foster care, and debilitating illnesses. Our Stories engages with participants to create original creative works using their own life experiences as inspiration and catalyst for healing and change.

The Our Stories program encompasses workshops, intensives, special events, presentations, youth theatre productions, and mental health panel discussions to reach and engage with youth and young adults. The Our Stories workshops and intensives are led by specially trained teaching artists and are monitored by mental health counselors and program managers as needed. The teaching artists use various exercises and prompts to create a space of safe self-expression of each individual's story, ensuring that each participant feels validated and empowered in the process. The participants share their story through a variety of artistic methods including playwriting, dance, spoken word, music, and visual arts. Through the isolation and uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic this initiative has provided an essential tool for promoting mental wellness in the midst of a mental health crisis.

With the support from Bank of America and others, Laguna Playhouse was able to form partnerships with over 20 community organizations that serve at-risk youth and young adults. A sample of the organizations that have partnered with the Laguna Playhouse to serve their clients with the Our Stories program are: Community Outreach Alliance, Project Kinship, Latino Health Access, Santa Ana High School, Laura's House, LGBTQ OC, Project Hope Alliance, and Western Youth Services. The Playhouse has ultimately served over 2,000 local individuals through these partnerships.

Through this funding, the Playhouse will continue to provide the Our Stories program with community organization partners, serving 2000 at-risk individuals again this year.

Through increased funding, the Playhouse will work to expand the outreach of this innovative program to individuals outside of the TAY demographic, ultimately sharing it with those experiencing incarceration, elementary and middle school aged children, and individuals in hospice and skilled nursing facilities.

Chelsea Day, a participant from an Our Stories session said: "This has been a surprising experience in which I felt safe to share my individuality. It is empowering to know that my story matters and that I can help others through sharing it."

At the completion of the sessions the participants are given resources for mental and behavioral health professionals who will assist them with achieving their higher level of mental and behavioral health.

Ellen Richard, Executive Director of the Laguna Playhouse said "The Our Stories Program is vital in helping us to strengthen the health and well-being of individuals at-risk, strengthen community connection, and envision a better future for all through artistic and storytelling techniques. Bank of America's support of Our Stories is fundamental in reaching underserved communities. We are immensely grateful for their support of this very important program."

"The arts provide an undeniable avenue to connect and heal a community," said Allen Staff, president of Bank of America, Orange County. "In light of difficult and isolating circumstances that have impacted so many of us, Laguna Beach Playhouse pivoted beautifully. They're providing an opportunity for transitional age youth to create and connect with each other, bringing positive, lasting impacts on their well-being. It's an honor to partner on the Our Stories project."


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