The BRAVO Arts Program gives students more then just fundamental teachings of stage directions and instructions of how one should recite memorized lines. Rather, it pushes kids beyond the basics of performance and plays an essential role in fostering how many of these kids mature into young adults.
When I was 16 years old I was diagnosed with Crohn's disease. As a result I was forced to quit the varsity swim team as a sophomore at OPRF. I was devastated, and if it were not for this program I would have been left on my own to find a new outlet so I could feel apart of something. But BRAVO, like it has always been and as I hope it always will be, was there.
I turned to Tina Reynolds, the BRAVO program director, and she was kind enough to offer me the chance to transition from pupil to teacher. I firmly believe that without such an opportunity I would not be in the same position that I am today. It is for that reason, as I touched upon earlier, that I believe this program taps into much more than just a kid's stage talents. It allows for a safety net for kids who may not be able to participate in other extracurricular activities, because of some uncontrollable circumstance, to grow and build confidence. I was limited from doing something that I loved because of something that I could not control. However, it was at BRAVO that those limitations did not matter. It's the very nondiscriminatory nature of the program that makes is so unique.
It is here that I have seen a kid so introverted he wanted to remain in the back of stage, timid to receive any attention, take a bow the following year in a lead role. It is what lends itself to the reason I have been able to work with kids from the inner city who otherwise would have never known the power of the arts. And it is why I have received inspiration in seeing a mentally disabled child, who may not have been able to fully participate on a basketball or debate team, be treated as fully equal and accept a lead in role in a show.
It is for these brief examples, and many more unmentioned stories, that passing this referendum is so important. For the power of a program like BRAVO gives so much more than just providing children with the opportunity to have fun on a stage. It gives them a chance to excel in parts of their lives that cannot be taught in any classroom or found in any textbook. It is a unique experience, and for many children it has empowered them to achieve in ways that have changed their lives.
n Oak Parker John Figel, 20, is an undergraduate student at Indiana University. He has been apart of the BRAVO program, both teaching and performing, for the last nine years.