SOS for Youth® Programs & Activities Summary
SOS for Youth® provides education and leadership development for youth who teach and promote the merits of individual responsibility. Our staff and teen participants have experience in facilitating theatre workshops, scriptwriting, leading peer-to-peer break-out sessions, and performing in a variety of contexts for diverse audiences.
Teen Touring Company
The SOS Teen Touring Company (originally SOS Players) began in 1990 with a troupe of 20 teen actors and one primary adult leader. In their first year, they performed 33 shows, primarily in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Today, we have locations based in Hudson and Saint Paul, and maintain a touring cast of 60 actors aged 13 to 18. SOS reaches an average of 20,000 audience members per year. We perform for six to eight organizations (schools, professional organizations, conferences, community groups) each month of the school year, often presenting multiple performances for a given group.
SOS’s repertoire of dramatic sketches – and the community of youth and adult volunteers and staff who produce them – center on the merits of individual responsibility. Our original presentations address and illuminate serious issues that youth face related to substance abuse, struggles with depression, bullying, racism, and sexual and physical abuse.
In the course of our 22-year history, we’ve enabled hundreds of students, in their after school and summertime hours, to build leadership and artistic skills and community connections – sometimes life-saving ones – as members of our company. In addition to attending rehearsals and performances, they sign a code of ethics, pledging to remain drug and alcohol free, maintain all family and social obligations, and maintain scholastic standards. Their dedication pays off: they reach tens of thousands of audience members each year, and together they build a community that supports their own – and one another’s – healthy choices.
The Teen Touring Program includes Regular Rehearsals (Sept - May – afterschool and Saturdays in Hudson and Saint Paul; Summer Teen Theatre Training Program (intensive summer training from June - Aug held in Hudson and starting 2012 in Saint Paul); and Touring (performances range from day-long trips across the Midwest, to week-long adventures further afield). In 2011, we performed at 44 different locations – 23 of which were in Minnesota.
Leadership & Education Series
In 2010, SOS crafted a new organizational structure to utilize our 22-year experience in working with youth to create additional education, leadership & service opportunities for young people to become healthy productive leaders in their communities.
Education – In 2011, we held an Education Series for our Teen Touring Company. On the first Saturday of each month, SOS engaged a professional to lead a workshop or presentation work with the teens on the issues that we address in our sketches. The hope with this series is that the teens will be better educated on the issues and be more equipped to apply the tools learned in their own lives. Presenters include Crisis Counselor Patti Hall on Sexual Abuse Awareness; Psychologist Dr. Michael Huntley on Depression; Deb Lyness from YMCA on Healthy Living and Nutrition; Stout University Professor on Eating Disorders & Body Image; Pharmacists on prescription drug abuse; and DADD Presenter on Drunk Driving.
In 2006, SOS added a Juniors program, which serves youth ages 7 to 12. Its purpose is to offer an opportunity for young people to develop skills in educational theatre, presentation, and to build confidence when speaking before groups. Our hope is that many of the SOS Juniors will eventually share their talents by joining the teen-touring cast.