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Accessible drama classes for autistic and neuro-diverse youth are helping young people to shine.

 

Tim Bray Theatre Company is thrilled to expand our Extraordinarily Creative accessible drama classes for autistic and neuro-diverse youth into East Auckland, so that more children and teens can enjoy this pioneering programme. 

These unconventional drama classes and holiday workshops are specially created for children and teens on the autism spectrum who skip to a different beat and who see and experience things in their own extraordinary way. The classes aim to create a safe and dedicated environment where students are allowed to grow and shine in the spirit of Takiwātanga (in their own time and space).  

Launched in 2021 on Auckland’s North Shore, this innovative programme has gone from strength to strength, with a strong base of devoted students experiencing outstanding outcomes and benefits. So much so, that in 2022, classes are expanding to East Auckland as well, with enrolments now open for the Holiday Programme and Term Classes in Te Oro, Glen Innes.

“Extraordinarily Creative is a safe haven where we celebrate everyone’s unique abilities and gifts and focus on building confidence and developing skills to have a better experience  of the  world,” says Sara Dakin, Youth Theatre Manager. “In this class we embrace our students’ exceptional brains and energy, and through acting techniques, guide them in a journey of self-discovery.”

Extraordinarily Creative students in action
Extraordinarily Creative Students in class, 2021.

Safe, inclusive, creative and fun.

“Our aim is to provide a positive and fun programme in a safe and nurturing environment where children can use the creativity of drama and theatre to enhance their life skills and express themselves in extraordinary ways,” says Sara.

Through drama exercises, students play out emotions and experiences in class, allowing them to build on their emotional language and better understand their feelings. Interacting with classmates and tutors in the weekly classes builds communication abilities, grows social skills and creates friendships.  

Ourtutors have been trained by Children’s Autism Foundation to fully understand neurodiversity and are equipped with strategies and tools to best support ASD/ADHD or neurodiverse children and young people in class.  Small class sizes allow the tutors to confidently work with the students while whānau and caregivers can gather outside the classroom to offer care and support to each other in a spirit of whakahoanga. 

All staff have undergone Diverse Drama training with Jeanita Cush-Hunter from the Children’s Autism Foundation. A happy outcome from this collaboration was that Jeanita agreed to come on board as Lead Tutor for these classes. Jeanita says, “I feel privileged to work with such such compassionate, dedicated and talented people”.  

Extraordinary responses

After just one year of our Extraordinarily Creative classes, we’ve experienced exceptional feedback from both students and their families.

“The teachers are amazing, supportive, genuine and caring, the other kids are great, and it is a neat environment to chat to the other parents without any judgement and feel a sense of belonging. We absolutely recommend the classes and would love to thank everyone involved for the way they welcomed and encouraged my son,” says parent, Caprice S.    

Another parent, Monica, is equally enthusiastic. “The drama class has been the BEST thing I have ever signed my son up for. I have never seen him so excited to attend anything before. The enthusiasm with which he goes and then the beaming smile afterwards is priceless. I think he just finds joy and comfort in being with like-minded peers, not having to ‘mask’ in class and just being totally himself. I would sign him up for the next 10 years if I could.”

For enquiries, please contact our Youth Theatre Manager, Sara Dakin, at youth.theatre@timbray.org.nz, call 09 486 2261 or check out our website.

Bookings for school holiday classes (24-28 Jan) and weekly Term 1 classes (starting 8 Feb) can be made here

Scholarships for Term 1 are available for tamariki and rangatahi who may need assistance. 

We would like to acknowledge IHC, Cognition Education Trust, Te Oro and Maungakiekie-Tāmaki Local Board for their support with our Kaupapa and continued development of this programme. 


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