Spare Change Theatre Troupe Inspiring Youth Through Truth

SPARE THEM THE TIME TO CHANGE YOUR MIND  2013-2014 Troupe members.  Submitted photo

SPARE THEM THE TIME TO CHANGE YOUR MIND 2013-2014 Troupe members. Submitted photo

Ula Varley
Mad River Union

HUMBOLDT – Spare Change Peer Education Program and Teen Theater Troupe is a model program that uses theater to educate about issues that are pertinent to young people. Teenage members of Spare Change write and perform skits throughout the year at local middle schools and high schools.

Spare Change started in 1996 as a program of Six Rivers Planned Parenthood, and many of their teachings relate to making good decisions relating to reproductive health. “As an advocate for equality and equal access in reproductive health care, I am passionate about helping others make informed decisions about the many aspects that contribute to their reproductive health,” said Ranjan Hatch, Spare Change coordinator.

Each June, new members are recruited. “There are about 20 members, and we all had to audition,” said Lily Drabkin, a teen member. “To get in, you have to audition, then go to a second audition, also known as a callback. Then you are selected. Only about one-fifth of the people that apply get in.”

New members begin their training in August. Before members start meeting and writing scripts together, they spend five days at an orientation camp. In addition to birth control and STD prevention, Spare Change learn about and addresses issues such as suicide prevention, drug and alcohol harm reduction and abstinence, parent-child communication, sexual orientation, diversity, self-respect, bullying, harassmment and domestic violence. “It is encouraged that local medical professionals, teachers, and school administers attend to help review material that will be performed throughout the county this year,” Hatch said.

The Spare Change season continues until June of the following year. In addition to rehearsing and performing, troupe members donate many hours educating the community as resource liaisons for Six Rivers Planned Parenthood and other agencies working with young people. The 2011-2012 troupe collectively donated 5,050 hours. They hosted 19 performances, taught in 13 schools and performed in venues as far away as Sacramento. On average, each member spends 175 hours attending trainings, creating skits and lesson plans, teaching in seventh and eighth grade classrooms, tabling at school and health fairs and putting together a community performance for administrators, parents and teachers to preview and critique.

Spare Change benefits not only the community, but its members as well. Troupe member Arianna Seal said, “Being a peer educator gives me the opportunity to provide outreach and resources to my community while pursuing my passion for equality in reproductive health care.” Robin Lancaster, another current member, added, “My work allows me to be a positive force in my community and gives me the opportunity to help my peers be safe and happy.” Concluded Drabkin, “Helping others access the help that they need makes me feel that I am making a positive difference in the world.”

“The work Spare Change has done over the last 17 years has had an impact on those involved and those who have participated in Spare Change discussions and presentations,” says Hatch. “Spare Change contributes greatly to the teen pregnancy rate reduction in our county and provides awareness and solutions on how to stop bullying and harassment in our local schools.”

Many Spare Change alumni continue to be involved with and advocate for Six Rivers Planned Parenthood. They also serve on discussion panels and act as support staff for the Spare Change annual orientation camp.

Spare Change performs a Community Review at Eureka High School’s theatre on Tuesday,  Dec. 10 from 6 to 9 p.m. The performance will feature 40 skits. All interested people are invited to attend, although anyone who is under the age of 18 will need a parental permission slip. For a permission slip or more information about the show, contact Ranjan Hatch, Spare Change coordinator, at (707) 442-2018 or at [email protected].

The group is very busy preparing this year’s Community Review and continuing to teach in the classroom as well as getting ready to start performing for local high schools. You can find out more on Facebook or at srpp.org.

Public Service Announcement
Six Rivers Planned Parenthood’s Spare Change Theatre Troupe Performs Their First Show of the Season Dec. 10 at 6 p.m. at Eureka High School
 Spare Change Teen Theatre Troupe will be performing original youth theatre at Eureka High School on Tuesday, Dec. 10 at 6 p.m. The performance features skits about teen pregnancy, STD prevention, healthy relationships, diversity, self respect, healthy relationships, bullying, drug abuse, abstinence and other topics related to teen health.
Spare Change is a local Peer Education Program that performs original youth theatre aiming to “empower youth through truth” about sexual health and safety. Nineteen teens from diverse Humboldt County schools have written and adapted 35 educational skits for middle and high school students in our community.
Spare Change will hold a Community Review on Tuesday, Dec. 10 from 6 to 9 p.m. at Eureka High School. This performance is one part of SRPP’s curriculum review process. The intended audience is professionals working in the fields of health and education.  Anyone under 18 who would like to attend must be accompanied by a parent or guardian or contact SRPP in advance to obtain a parent/guardian permission slip.
To see videos of Spare Change in action, visit www.srpp.org and click on the Education and Training tab. This program is made possible by local donations.  For more information on how to support Spare Change, or to request a permission slip, call (707) 445-2018 or email Amy Bruce at [email protected].
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