Red Ladder views all youth as being “at risk” in the sense that they are vulnerable to destructive and pervasive social and personal pressures that may limit their dreams and potential. Many of our youth live in highly combustible homes or no homes at all; are pregnant or have children of their own; attend under-resourced public schools; or routinely encounter discrimination, abuse, gang involvement, and drug and alcohol use.
“Many of our students come from low income households and non-traditional families. We serve a population that has a high rate of domestic violence and child abuse. Our students need to develop practical problem solving skills that allow them to resolve conflicts peacefully. At [Red Ladder staffs’] recommendation, we sent some of our most emotionally challenged students to participate in your program…. [I was] pleasantly surprised by the positive involvement of our most disruptive or apathetic students. Red Ladder Theatre Company was able to tap into a part of these needy students that rarely gets utilized.” - Zuzanka Vosky, Program Coordinator, Orchard School
“The high risk students in our Alternative Schools rarely have the opportunity to develop interests in most of the arts strands, particularly theatre arts. Because of this, students are reluctant to try new things, learn different options, or find creative solutions to problems they face.” - Grace Hernandez, Teacher, Advent Girls School
“Our group came away with a feeling of success. As a staff member who works with these children on an everyday basis, I can assure you that this is a feeling they often have difficulty recognizing and accepting.” - Monique Gill, Milieu Activity Therapist, Eastfield Ming Quong
[Red Ladder] “provided an ideal and dramatic boost to our curriculum, which could only have been achieved by the unique and effective methods practiced by the Red Ladder Company.” - Anna E. Giske, Health Education Specialist – The Connection/Siblings Program, Santa Clara Valley Health and Hospital System
Many of the schools Red Ladder works with have limited or non-existent arts education programs. Red Ladder is bringing theatre arts into classrooms on an ongoing basis, and Red Ladder techniques, exercises, and methods are used as tools to teach required curriculum subjects from reading to mathematics and the sciences.
“I believe utterly that the performing arts are an effective means for enhancing the academic curriculum and enabling children to grow into life-long learners.” - Adam Escoto, Principal, Horace Mann Academy
“Red Ladder plays an important role in our efforts to create a school culture and ethic…. Red Ladder enriches the curriculum and builds skills.” - John Malloy, Head Counselor, The Foundry School
“During the 1999-2000 season, Red Ladder was included in a semester-long comprehensive language and reading development program which produced staggering results for Horace Mann students, a 17% jump in reading scores as confirmed by state-wide STAR testing. Red Ladder has also helped effectively engage children in the learning process.” - Karen Altree Piemme, Associate Director, Red Ladder Theatre Company
“Over the last few years [the Bill Wilson School for homeless high school students has] worked with poets, art galleries, filmmakers, and musicians in order to help our students find their own deep, powerful voices. However, none of these mediums have grabbed and held on to these students as powerfully as Red Ladder. By allowing youth the freedom to act out, to scream, laugh, cry, whisper, explore their thoughts and feelings, and by giving them tools in which to begin this exploration, Red Ladder acts as a mirror in which students can view themselves as intelligent, mature, and creative individuals. They begin to see themselves as necessary and valued members of our community.” - Eric Guthertz, Teacher, Bill Wilson School
Red Ladder works with teens with Autistic Spectrum Disorders and other severe neurological disorders at the Morgan Center. Autism is a profound developmental disability that severely impairs a person’s abilities, particularly in the areas of language and social relations. These students tend to think in a concrete, literal fashion. Their disabilities are often viewed as willful non-compliance. In most settings these students are pushed to conform society. Instead, Red Ladder works to develop and celebrate their gifts as individuals.
“When I first heard about the format of Red Ladder Theatre Company, I questioned whether our students could relate. After the first session, I realized that Red Ladder was a perfect fit. It has been more than a few days of fun and sharing. Red Ladder Company has developed imagination, enriching the lives of the students and the lives of those who love them.” - Derek Korbel, Teacher, The Morgan Center
“I was hesitant to have our autistic students participate [in the Red Ladder program], because of the unique challenges their behavior presents. However, since the first session, I have completely changed my mind and have been singing your praises ever since to anyone who will listen!” - Jennifer Sullivan, Assistant Program Director, The Morgan Center
Adult inmates as well as juvenile offenders often grapple with multiple and interrelated issues, such as alcohol and substance abuse, unemployment, illiteracy, social alienation, low or non-existent self-esteem, troubled homes, and a chronic lack of resources to help them improve their own lives.
“We believe the world created by theatre allows inmates to safely experiment with solutions to achieving successful rehabilitation in the real world and can give them a crucial head start to continuing their recovery on the outside.” - Robert W. Conroy, Deputy Director, County of Santa Clara Department of Corrections
“Now I know I bought a terrible lie. I am somebody special. I have a place in this world.” - Inmate “James” in post-Red Ladder self-evaluation
“Coming to Red Ladder reminds me of all the good things I’m missing on the outside, and what I need to work for when I get out.” - Inmate “Cathy” in Red Ladder session
“Being an addict, you learn to put up wall. Red Ladder brings them all down.” - Inmate “Kelly” in Red Ladder session
“I soon discovered how each piece of the program had a purpose whether it be comforting the children, drawing them closer, opening their minds, or teaching teamwork, respect, and caring. I left amazed.” - Hugh F. Drummond, Corporate Relations, Amdahl Corporation
“Before I was like, this will be stupid, but you come here and it’s all different. It’s all about fun. It doesn’t matter who you are.” - A 15 year-old Red Ladder participant