Sat | Aug 15, 2020

WROC using drama to educate

Published:Tuesday | March 3, 2020 | 12:00 AMYasmine Peru/Gleaner Writer
Participants in the Women’s Resource and Outreach Centre’s weekly drama engagement sessions.
Participants in the Women’s Resource and Outreach Centre’s weekly drama engagement sessions.
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Research studies have found that theatre is effective in delivering educational messages in other domains of learning such as teaching health education to children and adults and engaging the general public in health-policy development.

With this in mind, the Women’s Resource and Outreach Centre (WROC) has decided to use drama to better reach its target group in executing its most recent project. The purpose is to drive home the point that maternity and infant deaths are preventable. The organisation has engaged the services of Children First to support its effort to develop short dramatic presentations.

The group has been conducting weekly engagement sessions with women and men from various communities at the WROC headquarters in Kingston. An enthusiastic Opal Dennis, chairperson of the women empowerment group, shared with The Gleaner that the actresses, along with the two men from the community who are also involved, are totally committed to the project, which she is confident will have the intended effect.

“You know how much Jamaican people love drama, so I think this is really a good way to share the message. We started practising five weeks ago. This Wednesday will be our sixth session, and I can tell you that everyone is enjoying it. It is a new dimension, and we are learning so much from Children First,” she said.

13-week sessions

The sessions will last for 13 weeks, with the final one taking place on a grand scale.

“We are going to have a big production during the final week. We will be filming and recording everything, so we are gearing up for that,” Dennis explained, adding that “everybody looks forward to Wednesday rehearsals”.

Patrice Pious Allen emphasised the importance of the engagements. “Through this medium, we are able to impart the messages that the residents need as they can better understand not only in the drama format, but given that they also participate in putting this together, they have more of a stake in the success.”

Children First coordinator Jovane Blagrove said that the exercise provides as much for the social workers as it does for the participants. “As we go through these sessions, we gain insights that also help us in the work that we do with other communities and in other issues because when you get down to it, this is about life, and in dealing with this vital issue, the expressions serve to inform experiences on other issues.”

Founded in 1997 in Spanish Town, Children First is the largest community organisation in Jamaica, providing social, educational, and skills training programmes primarily for youth. In Jamaica, the most recent statistics show that the maternal mortality rate stood at 80 per 100,000 live births, and the infant mortality rate was 25 per 1,000 live births.

Partners in the project are The University of the West Indies, the WROC, and more than 20 civil society organisations. The project is funded by the European Union.

yasmine.peru@gleanerjm.com