Local teens use theatre to raise money for Ugandan girls

Creative Commons Flickr Photo via Kisenyi III. Kampala, Uganda

High school is a time when most teens are finding themselves. They are finding what inspires them, moves them; creates their passions. But it is also a time when we start paying attention to the world around us and to the global community. Two high school seniors are doing that in a terrific and unique way.

 Ecole Kwantlen Park Secondary Students Nicole Hillis and Emily Brown, both in grade 12, are using theatre as a means of raising money for the education of three young girls in Uganda. A project that was originally started in their grade 11 year, they are remounting their successful production of Toy Story in an effort to fundraise for the girls’ remaining school years (last year’s production covered two years worth).

I spoke with Nicole about their collaboration.

Dan McPeake: Where did the idea for this project come from?

Nicole Hillis: The idea came because we wanted to find a way to help people. Emily, an aspiring actress herself, thought of doing a play to raise money by taking something we love to do and using it to make a change. We approached our school’s drama teacher, Laurie Brazzill, with the idea and she thought it was great. One of the teachers in our school had connections to a program helping children in Africa, so Mrs. Brazzill she lent us a copy of the documentary ‘War Dance’, set us up with said teacher, and then our hearts were set on our goal.

DM: What was it about Toy Story that you found appealing?

NH: We wanted to do something original, something fun that would appeal to a wide variety of people. Toy Story is a movie that is dear to the hearts of most teenagers of this decade, and we knew that we could gather a lot of interest to our cause with it.

 DM: The three girls in Uganda who are your beneficiaries. How did you hear about them? What made you decide to fundraise for them?

 Emily Brown: The wife of one of the teachers in our school had been in Uganda working with the children. She recommended three girls, Sara, Ella and Yasmin, who she found to be most in need of help to pay for an education.

NH: We had no second thoughts in helping these girls, especially after hearing their stories of struggle, and how difficult it is to pay for schooling in Uganda.

DM: What has happened with the girls since last year?

EB: We managed to raise money to pay for two school terms for the girls, and they have been going to school and loving it. They are very thankful for the support they received, and we want to keep that support going.

 DM: Can theatre be used as an outlet to create positive change?

 EB: Theatre can be used as anything; it has given us the opportunity to help others around the world all the while bringing people together. Everyone has had fun putting the show together and watching it. It is a great feeling knowing I can use something I love to help people and even change their lives for the better.

 Clearly, Emily and Nicole have found a calling as well as a unique way of supporting others and getting their message across for others to see and hear. I am hoping these two lovely ladies will continue on a path of creating art and social justice awareness and will use their talents in a manner which suits them best.

To Story plays Thursday April 25th and Friday April 26th at Ecole Kwantlen Park Secondary at 7pm. Tickets are $5 at the door. Attendees can make a donation when purchasing a ticket and a donation box will be available throughout the run.

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