Nonprofit launches community arts COVID-19 relief initiative

Performances by the Act4Change Violence Prevention Project
Photos courtesy of Masani Davis 

In response to the traumatic impact of COVID-19 on the Latinx community and Bronx residents, a nonprofit is using theater to help children cope with the stress of the pandemic.

On Jan. 7, Act4Change Violence Prevention Project, a community arts program of Crossroads Connection, Inc launched its COVID Relief Initiative: Healing and Wellness Rainbow of Desire.

Act4Change has partnered with Lincoln Hospital’s “Guns Down, Life’s Up” youth program to offer Bronx youth Theater of the Oppressed workshops and virtual performances aimed at alleviating  the trauma of the past year. The shows will allow participants and the audience to share, perform and discuss how the pandemic has affected them. Performances will also promote the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) universal health behaviors and precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“The whole purpose of the work is to activate a voice for young people and community members,” said Dr. Eva Lopez, adjunct assistant professor for John Jay College of Criminal Justice and Theatre of the Oppressed facilitator. “I think right now there’s nothing more important than COVID-19.”

Performances by the Act4Change Violence Prevention ProjectPhotos courtesy of Masani Davis 

Bronx residents including college students, high school and middle school students, will write short works about how COVID-19 has impacted their lives. Final performances will culminate with a design for equity table talk, at which audience members and performers will discuss possible action plans for the healing, wellness and health of the south Bronx community.

One scene will even be about teens becoming entrepreneurs, which many people have resorted to during the pandemic.

“We’re seeing young people having difficulty concentrating and difficulty getting through school work,” she explained. “If we don’t address it, who will?”

The first show will take place next month  and there are plans to do four this year. It is funded by the Bronx Council of the Arts and Citizens Committee of New York City.