Bright Spot: Students learn to express themselves through acting

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — These 5th graders at Corning Elementary are getting in touch with their emotions. Playback Memphis’ “Be The Peace” is teaching them how to communicate and express themselves effectively through acting.

“So it’s an art form but we also consider it a healing restorative practice,” said founder Virginia Reed Murphy.

Members of the ensemble listen to students’ real life experiences and then act them out to help students express what they feel in good or bad situations.

“Really what we’re doing is teaching children to pay attention to how they feel, to pay attention to how others feel. To pay attention to what they need to feel.”

Playback Memphis meets with the students once a week for an hour.

Delissia Settles says the hourly sessions encourage her during the school week.

“Wherever you go you can have a positive attitude.”

“Be The Peace” was started after members of Lifeline to Success, a mentoring organization, worked with Playback Memphis to improve relations with police in the Frayser community. They decided young people in the area could benefit just as they had.

Some of the Lifeline members are now members of the Playback ensemble, teaching others how to tell their stories while listening to others with respect and compassion.

“It’s just a lot of joy and then you get to let all of it out. You get to let the feelings out.”

It’s a practice Principal Danielle Harris says has positively changed the way students deal with conflict.

“Playback is my complete partner in how we handle student disagreements, how we handle student culture in the building and how we make this a place where students feel safe where they feel nurtured and loved.”

Be the Peace is helping students find their voice and it’s teaching them how to use it to be better students and build stronger friendships.


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