LIBERTYVILLE – For many parents, teens and children coping with stress related to the pandemic, returning to communities and large groups has been challenging. Many young and maturing children and families are experiencing triggers of anxiety, apprehension and even fear.
Libertyville’s Improv Playhouse Theater, its performing arts camps and youth training center is collaborating with Youth & Family Counseling to implement a program that helps children develop coping skills and build confidence to work through the emotional challenges confronting them daily.
Youth & Family Counseling staff trained the Improve Playhouse Theater staff in late spring and deployed Youth & Family Counseling interns to initiate and engage the program at Improv Playhouse sites for both elementary and young teenage students.
“By collaborating with Improv Playhouse, we are going to where the kids are,” said Janelle Moravek, executive director of Youth and Family Counseling. “Improv Playhouse has been a beacon of hope and community within Libertyville and the surrounding region for many years and especially so during the pandemic. Many of these children struggle with increased anxiety and depression. These struggles have been exacerbated during the past two to three years.”
The association between the two organizations is especially relevant considering the number of children Youth & Family counseling will gain access to through Improv Playhouse programs.
“I think it has definitely improved staff and student/camper relationships, “said David Stuart, founder of Improv Playhouse Theater and the performing camps’ executive director. “Our schedule provides a new session every two weeks throughout the summer. This gives us a lot of exposure to different groups of children. So while some of our campers repeat sessions, the continuity gives our staff the opportunity to set an example of what healthy coping skills look like.”
YFCthrive is intended as a skills group to extend the mental health offerings in communities by reaching out to children ages 5 to 19 who are experiencing mild or no symptoms. YFCthrive is all about early intervention.
“The Improv Playhouse summer day camp serves children ages 5 to 13 and we will be reaching, potentially, over 150-plus children through the course of the summer,” Moravek said. “Their organization engages children from several school districts with whom they partner, but especially a larger core group from Libertyville District 70. We are excited about the possible outcomes. This opportunity will help these children develop simple coping mechanisms for managing daily emotional challenges.”
Improv Playhouse has been an accredited member of the American Camp Association for two decades.