Production delivers message of conflict, resolution

  • Bethany Freudenthal / The Garden Island

    Xander van den Berg, Juliette Moody, LeGrand Lawrence, Sorelle Hatori perform “Peace Signs” at Kawaikini Elementary School.

PUHI — Some students on Kauai are learning how to deal with difficult situations in their lives.

“I learned that if you’re mad you should never just go into yourself, you should stop and think what you should do and what the other person is thinking and how you should fix the problem or to think what you could do to help out with it and not just go on with your anger,” said 11-year-old Lilinoe Kuhalua-Leong of Anahola.

It was her 11th birthday and she’d just watched a theatrical production called “Peace Signs” at Kawaikini Elementary School. The show is part of Kaiser Permanente’s Educational Theater Program.

The play showcases the lives of three students, Jesse, Alex and Trina, who deal with a conflict at school and some difficult situations at home.

“There’s instances of domestic abuse, there’s bullying, there’s an absent father, it’s just a lot of issues that a lot of kids go through but some of them don’t really know how to express what they’re feeling or how to get help,” said Xander van den Berg, 16, who played the part of “Alex” in the show.

After a conflict on the playground, the students’ teacher, Mr. Harrington, played by Le Grand Lawrence, teaches them the “stoplight method,” a method in dealing with these situations that focuses on stopping, thinking and acting in order to make a positive impact on the situation.

The method teaches children to stop so the situation doesn’t get worse, thinking about how you’re feeling and the other person is feeling and what might be done to increase the peace and then to act, to make a positive choice and do it.

Kuhalua-Leong said she plans on implementing what she learned.

“If I’m mad I would try to stop and think or if I see someone in need of help I can let them know that there’s always someone to talk to or if they know a trusted adult they can let them know what’s going on,” she said.

The show is one of two educational theater shows put on as a partnership with Kapolei Performing Arts School on Oahu and Kaiser Permanente. The shows are performed at schools throughout the state.

“It’s very important for schools that folks realize that kids do spend a great deal of their day at school, so programs like these that teach kids about healthy behavior,” said Joy Baruk, senior director of government and community relations for Kaiser Permanente.

It’s a great show and will have an impact on the students’ lives outside of school, Baruk said.

“These are skills that will carry through with them not only in their communities but also in their home and then hopefully it will make them good citizens,” he said.

The performance was a great experience for the students, Kuhalua-Leong said.

“At this age there’s a lot of things going on in our life and sometimes kids don’t say and it gets worse. There’s always someone to talk to and that can probably help with the problems or even stop it.”

Also in attendance at Monday’s performance were councilmembers Derek Kawakami and Mason Chock, and both said everyone should see this show.

The show was inspiring, Chock said.

“If we could just remember those things on a daily basis, I think we’d all treat each other better and have a better life just feel better about how it is as we’re going about our day,” he said. “It’s about resiliency, its about how we can help each other.”

Kawakami said the lessons taught in the show give students the tools to make a positive impact in a bullying situation, or understanding why people are having a bad day.

“I would encourage certain adults to come out and watch this as well,” he said.

The show was performed at Kapaa and Koloa Elementary schools Tuesday.

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Bethany Freudenthal, crime, courts and county reporter, 652-7891, bfreudenthal@thegardenisland.com

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