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New Maple Ridge school teaches empathy through musical theatre

Lights Up Musical Theatre will be running programs out of Burnett Church
Lights Up Musical Theatre is opening a school in Maple Ridge. (Lights Up Musical Theatre/Special to The News)

Musical theatre is much more than singing a catchy tune with a smile on your face – it teaches children the importance of having empathy towards their peers and how to see the world through another set of eyes.

And the owner of a new Maple Ridge musical theatre company says the skills children learn from being on stage can reverberate to all aspects of their lives.

Theatre helps build confidence in children and teaches them empathy, explained the co-founder of Lights Up Musical Theatre, and the school’s program director Lisa Oppenheim.

“There’s a whole bunch of soft skills that can be used pretty much anything that the children go into later. So things like working harmoniously with a team, learning to build on other people’s ideas rather than shooting them down for example,” Oppenheim noted.

It also teaches them teamwork, confidence and problem solving, and how to use your imagination to think outside of the box, she said

“It’s active learning to teach empathy. Students really have to consider what its like to be in somebody else’s situation.”

The company will be kicking off its new location with camps for Spring Break. There will be half day camps for those aged 4-6-years-old and full day camps for 7-12 year-olds. Each week will have a theme and music is selected based on the theme and they create a story with the children. At the end of the week the children will present a mini-musical.

The theme for the first week will be music from Broadway favourites, more traditional Broadway theater, explained Oppenheim.

For the second week the camp will feature pop music.

Each year the school will feature three terms and each term will have a different goal at the end of it.

READ ALSO: Pitt Meadows mom designs costume for upcoming musical

ALSO RELATED: Maple Ridge boy portrays Shrek in upcoming musical production

The spring term is always the production term, and this year the school will be putting on Pinocchio.

Everybody is welcome at the school, said Oppenheim. Parents of children with special needs are encouraged to call the school to discuss those needs.

Sharmila Miller will be part of the Maple Ridge teaching staff this spring. She is also the artistic director of the Garibaldi Secondary School’s Drama and Interdisciplinary Arts Academy and a member of the Association of BC Drama Educators Executive Committee for Theatre Inclusion and Diversity.

Lights Up Theatre has been providing musical theatre classes for youth across the Lower Mainland since 2006 and now has 10 locations and more than 1,200 students who attend weekly programs.

In Maple Ridge programs will be held at Burnett Church, 20639 123 Avenue. Spring Break Camps run March 13-17 and March 20-24. The spring term featuring weekly classes run from April 15-June 24 and summer camps will run weekly throughout July and August.

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Lights Up Musical Theatre is opening a school in Maple Ridge. (Lights Up Musical Theatre/Special to The News)

Colleen Flanagan

About the Author: Colleen Flanagan

I got my start with Black Press Media in 2003 as a photojournalist.
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