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Orpheum Theatre Offering 'Mending Hearts' Arts Camp for Grieving Children

The Orpheum Theatre Group announced the addition of a special two-week long camp to its 2017 summer camp programming. Founded by President & CEO Brett Batterson, the first annual Mending Hearts Camp will serve children ages 6-13 that have experienced the death of one or both parents.

Generously sponsored by BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation, the therapeutic performing arts camp will take place July 10-21, 2017, at the Halloran Centre for Performing Arts & Education.

"My father passed away unexpectedly when I was 7 years old," Batterson said. "As I grew, I realized it was my childhood involvement in the performing arts that gave me the tools to express myself, a tight group of supportive friends, and the self-confidence to achieve the success I have enjoyed in life."

Surrounded by a community of peers who have experienced similar loss, a typical day at camp will include music, theatre, and dance classes as well as Sharing Time and guest artists. During Sharing Time, adults from the Memphis community will share their own stories of losing a parent as a child and provide campers with hope for the future.

Artistic and clinical staff will lead activities that encourage ensemble work and celebrate the unique talents of each individual camper, giving them the ability to express themselves and build self-confidence as they collaborate to create a showcase they will present at the end of camp. Professional healing counselors from Baptist Memorial Hospital Kemmons Wilson Family Center for Good Grief will provide small group and individual counseling to the campers.

"Mending Hearts Camp provides a special chance to help Memphis kids who are hurting," said Chelsea Johnson, interim director of community relations and foundations at BlueCross. "BlueCross is proud to support the camp and the children it will serve."

Mending Hearts Camp, in its first year in Memphis, is similar to a camp that Batterson founded in Chicago in 2005. That camp has seen more than 1,100 young people benefit from the use of the performing arts as a healing tool. Now that Batterson is in Memphis, he has started Mending Hearts Camp from the soul of that Chicago camp but added some unique Memphis aspects to make the camp more impactful and beneficial to the young campers.

"With Mending Hearts Camp, I am pleased the Orpheum Theatre Group can give other children who have experienced the devastating loss of a parent the same benefits of the performing arts that I had as a child," Batterson said.

Mending Hearts Camp is open to children ages 6-13. The cost is $50 per family. Scholarships are available, and no child will be turned away due to financial hardship. Applications will be accepted until June 26 or until all spots are filled. This camp will take place at the Halloran Centre (adjacent to the Orpheum Theatre) Monday through Friday, July 10-21, 9am to 4pm. Before and after extended care is available and lunch and snacks are provided free of charge.

To register a camper or for more information, call 901.529.4204, email, or visit Mending Hearts Camp is sponsored by BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation. Clinical support is provided by Baptist Memorial Hospital Kemmons Wilson Family Center for Good Grief.

The mission of the Orpheum Theatre Group is to enhance the communities we serve by utilizing the performing arts to entertain, educate, and enlighten while preserving the historic Orpheum Theatre and the Halloran Centre for Performing Arts & Education. For more information, visit

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