HELENA – A new after-school program at Grandstreet Theatre begins this week in Helena.
It’s the Social Skills Theatre Class, a way to help children who need assistance in learning social skills such as emotion recognition, listening skills and eye contact.
They’ll be taught those techniques through fun, theatre-based activities.
Organizers say those social skills can go a long way in helping children build relationships.
“I think from the get-go in my profession the one thing that catapulted me into this piece of being so involved in social intervention is seeing kids across the life-span and how meaningful and how impactful it is for them to have those positive relationships,” says Speech Language Pathologist Daylinda Radley. “I’ve seen how devastating it can be without having those relationships and so I think providing intervention early on is very critical. Not only is it a social skill, but a mental health type skill it’s a functional life skill.”
Radley says the class is suitable for kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder and ADHD — but also that children from many other backgrounds can also benefit.
Theater artist Kevin Casey will assist with the program and says theatre is a natural way to help children gain these skills.
“The fact that there’s a place where kids – with whatever your ability is – to come and learn social skills, to me is… I immediately jumped on it,” says Casey. “It’s such an interesting and beautiful idea to me to open up the world of theater training, which is my background, to all these other applications for it. Yes, I can see very clearly how it’ll be useful to these young kids.”
For more information on the class, go to Grandstreet’s website, or call Daylinda Radley at 438-3434.
Reporting by Melissa Jensen for MTN News