Turn Around Projects of the Arts – lead by graduates, students and colleagues of the Department of Dramatic Arts of the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts – began its fifth year on July 7th, 2011 in Port Antonio, Jamaica. TAP is a multi-national initiative using the arts and education to build sustainable communities.
This year, four talented Brock students attended TAP Jamaica: Lescia Poppe, Jamez Townsend, Dorothy Kane and Meaghan Gowrie, as well as seven Brock graduates, Tiffany Stull, Rox Chwaluk, Mike Irwin, Whitney Lee, Alycia McQueen, Christine Cassar, and Matt McLeod. Along with 8 others, the Canadian/American team developed successful workshops in dance, visual arts, music, creative writing, dramatic arts, culinary arts, film, and photography. Many weeks since the conclusion of the program the spirit and principles of TAP persist in the hearts of the Canadian facilitators and the Jamaican youth who participated. The hard work, dedication and compassion that every single team member brought to the project has once again guaranteed its success.
The TAP pilot project began in 2007 with a collaboration between the programming director of the project and former Drama in Education and Society program graduate, Tiffany Stull, her classmates, and their guest professor the renowned Canadian Dub Poet Michael St. George. Students of the third year dramatic arts course Alternative Forms of Theatre worked together to create a two-week long program of intensive educational workshops for the youth in an impoverished region of Jamaica. With the leadership of former DART professor Jane Leavitt and Michael St. George a five year commitment to TAP Jamaica was established with the intention of initiating and maintaining integrated arts workshops every July.
Participant and third-year DART student Meaghan Gowrie exclaimed, “From a personal standpoint, I can proudly say that when facilitating the music workshop, my success was in part rooted deeply in the skills, knowledge and values that I have been taught so far as a Drama in Education and Society student at Brock University.”
Now that the five year commitment to TAP Jamaica has come to an end the Canadian team is prepared to move into Phase 2 of the program, training Jamaican youth to become facilitators of an autonomous and self-directed workshop program. This summer the groundwork was laid for Phase 2 with the creation of the F.I.T. team (Facilitators in Training). This team included ten Jamaican youth who have successfully achieved the objectives of TAP through their actions and leadership skills in previous years. Five of these participants graduated the F.I.T. program in 2011 and will facilitate workshops in July 2012.
Gowrie added, “The experience that I had as a Canadian team member, educator and friend to the amazing 44 Jamaican youth that attended the program is completely impossible to describe in words or writing. It is my hope that anyone who comes in contact with the pictures, videos, and people of TAP will get a small taste of the impact that the first five years has made on everyone who has ever helped in the execution of, or attended the program. The optimism and positivity that is now ever-presently radiating in each of us will inspire the people of Brock University and eventually the world that the arts can change lives, that anything is possible and that step by step, we WILL make it to the top!”