Scott Lemieux

Scott Lemieux

At age 50, I cried when I heard that small children were gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

As a busy business owner and father of children needing special attention, how could I do something to change the often cruel, angry, mean world? How could I help pull children from isolation? How could I help often overwhelmed parents guide support and nurture their children? How to do this and be dad and husband? In Brunswick, Maine?

Then a friend asked me to attend the Midcoast Youth Theater’s performance of “The Wiz!”

I watched my 8-year-old’s eyes sparkle as she looked to the stage where 90 youths were performing.

She said, “Hey, I know her! I want to do that!”

Susan Scaccia clearly outlines cognitive, physical, emotional and social benefits for young people who participate in theater arts activities. I believe we can save our little part of the world by teaching youth to:

— Exercise together. Song and dance provides an intrinsic sense of connection and community.

— Read and memorize a script and listen and respond to verbal and musical cues.

— Cooperate with cast mates in a structured environment.

— Develop concentration, focus and problem solving skills.

— Take direction, coaching and guidance from mentors.

— Be a part of a diverse community which has a goal beyond the individual.

Scaccia states that, for youth: “These (theater) experiences will ultimately result in his (her) growth into an adult who more clearly understands the value of collaborative work, the delight inherent in creating art and the value of that precious, human treasure: the ability to communicate by telling stories.”

At Midcoast Youth Theater, Kelsey was cast as a maiden in “Mulan.” Lauren, 12, was in the ensemble in “Little Mermaid.”

Daddy sat in the wings and helped with the sets. I saw childfocused, warm, patient, caring leaders — two hours per day, three days, per week, per show.

I watched professionals coordinate practices for all ages: elementary, middle school and teens. In our home, the Kindles and computer were off as the evenings and beach trips were filled with music and dance.

Week by week, I watched Midcoast Youth Theater welcome my socially challenged child with grace. I cringed as she struggled through the chorus line steps, but gradually improved. My heart warmed as several children and the teen ballet instructor encouraged the child. Both of my children beamed as they received their ornate costumes.

On Pleasant Street this summer, about 150 youths were memorizing lines, learning dance routines and developing teamwork skills instead on being isolated in some room engrossed in a dark violent video game.

In contrast to the national news, the news in Brunswick is Midcoast Youth Theater’s success building well-rounded, imaginative, self-confident youths.

As the fall approached, I learned that Midcoast Youth Theater, like so many nonprofit organizations, was struggling financially.

It has been serving the community well. We need to ask members of the community to help us deliver the wonderful benefits of youth community theater into the future.

At its center, Midcoast Youth Theater delivers so much to youth, building well-rounded, imaginative, self-confident participants. No other local theater serves so many. No other theater values the ensemble so highly. No other theater demonstrates the sustainable viability of many different players, each playing a unique role.

This is a training ground for community and workplace for all.

Take a moment to reflect on Columbine and Sandy Hook. At center stage in both incidents was a disenfranchised youth.

Now, take a moment to read Susan Scaccia’s article.

Midcoast Youth Theater may not be the biggest song and dance man on the local stage, but it may play one of the most important supporting roles in the chorus of youth programing in our area.

Join me in the joy of being a part of the solution. Support Midcoast Youth Theater. Log on to Pay Pal, donate an auction item or organize a fundraiser. View show photos at www.youth-theater.org/ and on Facebook.

Midcoast Youth Theater will hold a silent auction Nov. 16 at the Skolfield Carney House, 155 Park Row.

Donations may be accepted on the Midcoast Youth Theater website or in person Mondays trhrough Thursdays 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Ameriprise office of Scott Lemieux, 157 Park Row, Brunswick; or at the Maine Real Estate network offices of Tom Cole, 141 Pleasant St., Brunswick.

SCOTT LEMIEUX, of Harpswell, has operated a business in Brunswick since 1997.


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