Betty Huff Theatre Company, Recipient

A young girl with Asperger syndrome wanted to be involved in her school’s theatre program. She had a pitch-perfect voice, and even though she struggled greatly with social skills, she found her home in theatre. After dancing and singing in her first-ever production, she met her dad in the audience. He told her that her performance was the most beautiful thing he’d ever seen. This young performer broke down crying because this was the first time she remembered her dad saying something nice to her. It’s for students like her that the Betty Huff Theatre Company exists—using theatre training to make a life-long difference in young lives. And with a branded bag giveaway, students can proudly identify as being involved in the theatre. Providing confidence, hope and familyChildren using clip-on book lights to read their lines in a dark theatre. The Betty Huff Theatre Company serves students from low-income, under-served families. It gives students a purpose after school, an alternative to going home and hanging out on the streets. The theatre builds students’ self-esteem and confidence and provides structure and a sense of family. Students receive training in everything—from acting to singing to technical skills. Participating in the theatre program has forever changed countless students’ lives. One young performer, who was playing the part of young Simba in a Lion King production, was able to use the performance to process the significant loss she was experiencing after losing two family members. Another student who uses a wheelchair really wanted to participate in the theatre. The current production was Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Theatre staff built this young performer a bed with wheels so she could be wheeled on and off the stage while playing the part of a grandparent. Participating in the program has been a highlight of her life. Some students even go on to work in professional theatre. One former student came back to the Betty Huff Theatre Company to teach music. And another came back to teach choreography. It’s wonderfully rewarding for staff to see former students reinvest in the theatre that changed their life. Proudly displaying theatre swag To give students an incentive to work hard, staff uses branded bag giveaways and other swag obtained with help from a 4imprint one by one® grant. The bags are given to reward students for good behaviour, rehearsal attendance and memorizing their lines. Of all the swag, the students especially love their bags—it’s a point of pride that identifies them as a Betty Huff Theatre Company student. Thanks to the one by one grant, students receive clip-on lights too. As they wait for their turn to go on stage during a production, they use their clip-on lights to follow along with the script backstage where it’s dark. “Our students rehearse seven-and-a-half hours a week. The swag helps our students feel valued and is the perfect prize and thank-you gift. Everything we do in the theatre is out of our own pockets or from the goodness of donations and grants. We have no budget, so without the one by one grant, we couldn’t provide our students with these giveaways,” said Steve Swaddling, Co-director at the Betty Huff Theatre Company.

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