A guest post by PAA parent, Suzanne Sharpe.
As I reflect back on the many years that we have participated in PAA (my son Devin participated in the very first PAA and has not missed a musical intensive yet!), I am amazed at the influence the program has had in our lives. We started participating in PAA expecting nothing more than a fun music and drama experience to keep the kids busy over the summer. Instead, we have found it to be not only a fun experience over the summer, but my children have gained a foundation that has been important in many other areas of their daily lives. Lauren and Madeline could not wait until they too were old enough to participate in PAA and it has become the backbone of our summers.
PAA has helped my children build self esteem and learn to take chances. There are many times when you are stretched beyond your comfort zone in auditions, dance, and character development. You may want to shy away from the experience, because it makes you uncomfortable. PAA teaches you to push through this feeling of anxiety and come out on the other side full of pride for what you have accomplished. Nothing provides more self esteem than being able to do something you never thought you would be able to do, in a matter of a few short weeks. These are lessons that as a family we have been able to apply to our daily lives at school, work, and play. We have learned that there is nothing gained without taking chances, even if taking the chance makes you uncomfortable!
My children enjoy public speaking and classroom presentations as a result of all the time they have spent at PAA. They are always the first to volunteer for speaking roles in presentations at school, and I know that confidence will carry over with them into the work place. How many adults do you know that hate to get up in front of a group to speak or do a presentation? Isn’t it great that our kids can learn at a young age this very important skill, so that they view it as no big deal! It is great when your child comes home from school and says I got the easiest part of the assignment! I don’t have to do anything, all I have to do is get up and act out our presentation, when most of the other kids in the class view that as the hardest part of the assignment.
An unexpected impact PAA has had for our family is learning how to perform simple construction tasks. I tried to hang a mirror using 3M Command Strips. Needless to say, that was not a good idea and it fell off the wall over night. Imagine, my surprise, when my son said, “Mom, why don’t you just use the drill and some screws?” I replied, “Because I don’t know how to use the drill.” He then told me that he knew how to use the drill and when I questioned how he knew that, he said, “because Dr. Jim let’s me use the drill to strike the set!” I knew, at that moment, that PAA had been worth more than I had ever known. The list for helping me around the house has grown, now that I know my children have these skills. Thank you, Dr. Jim!
PAA has shaped our summers for the past 8 years. Our summer plans are designed around the dates of the PAA musical intensives. Who knew that developing skills in time management, leadership, team work, public speaking, self esteem, and construction could be so much fun! In fact, if you asked my kids, they would probably tell you that they have not been taught these skills, you see… they just think of PAA as fun! It is a great way to spend their summer with friends that have developed into a family for them! What more can a mom ask for?
As usual, I agree with Suzanne entirely. The benefits of PAA go far beyond the two week experience. It’s my daughter’s favorite thing about summer!