For giving young people more chances to shine behind the scenes as well as on stage, the Bellevue Youth Theatre won a $500 "Significant Improvement" award from a Seattle youth advocacy group.
Kids of all backgrounds and abilities have long been able to act in BYT productions, as well as handle lighting and props. The Raikes Foundation cited the theater for also giving participants opportunities to write scripts and help direct, cast and even choose shows.
The BYT "was already a great program, and it continues to get better," said Judy Rosentswieg of the Raikes Foundation during an award presentation on Oct. 18 at the Seattle Sheraton Hotel.
Founded in 1990, the BYT began expanding young people's roles in productions last year, after it started participating in a national program aimed at improving young people's leadership and involvement in youth programs. The Raikes Foundation's award came unsolicited, after the organization reviewed changes in the BYT's operations.
"Involving youth in leadership roles has really improved their ownership of the program, and makes their experiences at the theater that much more powerful and meaningful," BYT Director James McClain said.
Both McClain and program coordinator Norm Dalire were named in the award.
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