The Greenwich and Lewisham Young People's Theatre (GLYPT) continues to empower youngsters through drama and dance. Reporter SAMANTHA PAYNE speaks to artistic director Jeremy James about the group's latest skateboarding project at Horn Park Primary School ...

FOR more than 30 years, the GLYPT has been promoting learning through drama and theatre in the boroughs of Greenwich and Lewisham.

The group's Theatre in Education programmes have made an impact on schools in helping to build young people's confidence.

A team of artists and actors and a skateboarding choreographer visited Horn Park Primary, Alnwick Road, Greenwich, from March 6 to March 9.

The aim of the £3,000 project, funded by South Greenwich Regeneration Agency, (SGRA), was to create a more positive relationship between the community of the school and Horn Park Skateboard Park.

SGRA is made up of councillors, residents and business people.

Headteacher David Rolle identified how the school had an uneasy relationship with the skateboard park and those who use it.

It was seen as an intimidating space which didn't give off a positive energy to many pupils and their parents.

But since GLYPT has been at the school they have given the youngsters the confidence to use the skatepark and have built bridges with the older children who congregate there.

Part of the project involved drama workshops and games, held at the school and park.

The GLYPT team explored issues such as loss and what the children value in their world.

The artists, through the help of the students, also developed a play, SK8 Angel, based on young people escaping to the world of their skateboards.

At the end of the week at the skatepark, students performed scenes from SK8 Angel and the Year 5 children danced and wrote rap songs.

GLYPT plans to tour SK8 Angel in schools, theatres and art centres in spring next year.

Horn Park pupils also enjoyed the chance to learn how to skateboard and after the project ended GLYPT left the skate equipment for pupils to continue their new-found hobby.

GLYPT artistic director Jeremy James said: "The SK8 project has been really successful in helping kids feel more confident in themselves and more comfortable to play on their skateboards and BMXs in the park.

"We have seen drama work as a powerful tool to educate and change the way children think about things."

One pupil, Rebecca Durrham, nine, said: "Skateboarding was fun, because it was an experience we haven't done before.

"I think we'll go in the skateboard park more often."

Another pupil David Hoskins, 10, said: "Skateboarding was a great adventure. We hope to do it again and have lots more fun."

Headteacher David Rolle said: "I believe for many children to fully achieve we must make sure the performing arts are continually developed by the school and this project was a superb example of this in action."

To find out more about the theatre, call 020 8854 1316.

Other GLYPT activities:

  • Youth Theatre Drama and Youth Theatre projects for young people in their free time.
  • Acting workshops in each borough for people aged eight to 21.
  • Professional training programmes For artist facilitators, workshop leaders and in-service training for teachers.
  • The VOICES project A programme of theatre arts and related activities for young refugees and asylum seekers in Greenwich, Lewisham and South London.
  • No Limits A new twice-weekly workshop designed for young people aged 16 and older who have moderate learning difficulties and who are not in education. It aims to encourage children back into education, employment or training.