Special Projects

CAT pilots many new initiatives and special projects, many cornerstone programs have emerged from this process. Current and recent Special Projects include:

 

DOVE: Domestic Violence and Other Violence Emergencies

In 2019, CAT was awarded funds through the NY City Council DOVE Initiative. This grant focuses on domestic violence prevention and prevention of violence in other settings that include sexual assault, sexual harassment, and gender discrimination.

 

Anti-Bullying/Violence Prevention Initiative

CAT has provided Anti-Bullying/Anti-Violence workshops and residencies to at-risk populations throughout NYC for decades. Our current initiative is a wholistic residency that includes professional development and parent workshops, which provides a venue for students to focus on bullying and conflict resolution, including cyberbullying, both inside and outside of the school building.

 

Young Adult Literacy Technical Assistance

For 5 years, CAT partnered with the NYC Department of Youth & Community Development as Technical Assistance Provider for their citywide 16 Pre-HSE sites.

 

HIV/AIDS Prevention

For 25 years, CAT partnered with the NYS Department of Health to use drama-based interventions to confront and address tough issues – domestic violence, drug abuse, HIV/AIDS – impacting health and wellness among youth and adults across the state.

 

Young Women’s Mentoring Initiative

(pilot program with Preston High School, Bronx, NY)

Working closely with Preston’s Big Sister Little Sister initiative, CAT created an interactive workshop series aimed at developing mentoring skills among students in this single-sex school. The seven-week curriculum focused on decision making, group dynamics, conflict resolution, and communication.

 

Workplace Readiness for Special-Needs Students

In partnership with the CUNY Youth Transition Demonstration Project, which ended in 2010, CAT piloted a 7-session interactive workshop series aimed at helping the young people understand the world of work in preparation for achieving maximum independence and economic self-sufficiency.

DOVE: Domestic Violence and Other Violence Emergencies

In 2019, CAT was awarded funds through the NY City Council DOVE Initiative. This grant focuses on domestic violence prevention and prevention of violence in other settings that include sexual assault, sexual harassment, and gender discrimination.

CAT is committed to using the theater arts as a vehicle for change and facilitating dialogue that can help to cultivate healthier relationships in the workspace, at home, and in our communities. CAT partners with community based organizations who recognize how unhealthy relationships that lead to domestic violence and other violent emergencies have an impact on their thriving communities. Community based partners work with CAT to identify resources and services should any participants be in crisis and need them.

This year, Councilmember Robert Holden of District 30 awarded DOVE funds to CAT for his district and we are working with the Ridgewood Y as our community-based partner. Project director Erika L. Ewing, a 20-year veteran at CAT, designed an intergenerational approach for this site – working with both teens and seniors – to build cohesion between two communities and foster a dialogue about how to build healthier relationship and to identify the warning signs that lead to domestic violence. The focus is on prevention and primary intervention strategies that deescalate conflict and foster healthier dialogue, and break the code of silence around domestic violence.

“I was excited for CAT to be invited to become part of this important dialogue and conversation. We see so much in our classrooms and in our professional development workshops. As professionally trained actors and applied theater practitioners we study behavior, cause and effect, language and tone, and translate that into the five social and emotional learning competencies to identify the individual strengths of our participants and their strength as a group. Ultimately, it is our community responses to domestic violence that will make the difference. At CAT what we do masterfully is address and raise awareness about social issues using theater and engagement tools. We use a participant-centered approach to co-create prevention and intervention strategies that suit the needs of the cohorts we serve.”Erika L. Ewing

Cupcakes Makes Friends! Our Youth cohort decided that basketball was the perfect way to begin and end our dialogue around healthy relationships, teen dating violence, and domestic violence. They were truly excited and surprised to receive a dozen of homemade cupcakes baked by one of our Seniors!

The first step in community building is breaking bread and practicing self-care! Our Seniors at the Ridgewood YMCA meet with CUNY-CAT after their hour long fitness class. They look forward to enjoying their lunch with their peers before we begin our critical dialogue around healthy relationships and domestic violence. 

Anti-Bullying/Violence Prevention Initiatives

CAT works with students and adults to identify and address the root triggers for aggression and conflict – from cyberbullying to gun violence. Drama-based workshops help participants identify what bullying and violence looks like in a variety of scenes and settings, and provides a space to practice critical thinking, de-escalation, and pro-social communication. Whether participants take the role of aggressor, victim or bystander, all come to see the consequences each one’s actions can have to improve the situation – or make it combust.

In FY2016, with funding from the New York State Education Department, CAT delivered a sixth year of school violence prevention programming including in-school student workshops and professional developments to promote safe school environments. Informed by a restorative practices approach, the workshops gave participants a voice in defining healthy relationships, analyzing power dynamics, and examining hierarchies. CAT also delivered in-school residencies and parent workshops to PS 308 and Boys & Girls High School in Brooklyn as part of the City Council’s Anti-Gun Violence initiative, and brought violence prevention workshops to other sites by request, including middle schools, high schools, and transitional housing facilities.

FY2016 Impact:

  • 1,498 Middle & High School Students & Community Members
  • 224 Teachers
  • 113 Parents
  • 32 Residencies
  • 399 Workshops for Students
  • 40 Professional Developments
  • 13 Parent Workshops
  • 16 Schools & Community Sites, including 2 Transitional Housing Sites


100% of participating teachers said they felt more empowered to be an ally for all students

96% of participating parents felt more prepared to address bullying issues with their child after CAT workshops

“This activity made me think deeply about my choices and ask myself if the actions I take will benefit me or bring me down. This can help me in the future because life is a lesson and there will always be something to take care of.”
- 7th grade student

“I found that cyberbullying can advance into physical bullying and become dangerous.”
- 8th grade student

HIV Prevention

 

For 25 years, CAT partnered with the NYS Department of Health to use drama-based interventions to confront and address tough issues – domestic violence, drug abuse, HIV/AIDS – impacting health and wellness among youth and adults across the state. The most recent projects included CHERISH and Project CHANGE.

CHERISH

(Changing Habits, Environments, Relationships in Sexual Health)

CHERISH, CAT's newest educational outreach initiative, promotes adolescent female sexual health and HIV/STI prevention, particularly for women of color.

 

Project CHANGE

(Community Health and Neighborhood Growth through Empowerment)

Project CHANGE brought students from CUNY’s York and Medgar Evers Colleges together to use interactive drama as the starting point for a multifaceted campaign to generate broad-based community support for comprehensive sexual health education and health care services for young people. They received stipends for participation as well as a tuition grant at the end of each academic year.

In 2015-16, CAT completed a six-year effort, called Project CHANGE (Community Health Actions for Growth and Empowerment). Project CHANGE trained students from CUNY’s York and Medgar Evers Colleges as adolescent sexual health advocates in high-need areas. Participating students, or CHANGE Agents, were trained and mentored in HIV/STI/STD Awareness & Prevention Education, Facilitation, Presentation and Workplace Readiness Skills. These Peer Educators and Community Activists for adolescent sexual health engaged in drama-based advocacy and education work that resulted in reaching close to 5,000 high school and college students and community members, brought thousands of safe sex kits to communities where HIV rates continue to be high, and encouraged nearly 800 people to get tested for HIV and sexually transmitted diseases.

While FY16 saw the conclusion of this particular DOH grant, CAT continues to provide Health & Wellness workshops to teens and young adults, as part of our Life Skills programming.

FY11-16 Impact:

  • 52 CHANGE Agents
  • 1,325 Hours of Training/Mentoring
  • 4,586 Participating High School & College Students
  • 482 Workshops in Schools, Colleges, Health Fairs, Churches, Conferences and other Special Events
  • 4,039 Participants Received Referrals for HIV/STI Screening or Counseling 
  • 782 Participants Tested for HIV/STI


100% of CHANGE Agents reported that, along with HIV/STI Prevention & Education knowledge, Project CHANGE helped them develop oral and written communication, collaboration, critical thinking, problem-solving and workplace readiness skills.

“In the 5 years that I have been part of the program, I’ve grown from being a shy, close-minded individual to an outspoken open-minded young woman with a great future ahead of me! Project CHANGE taught me how to work with various populations as well as how to embrace cultural differences. The experience paved the way for me to become a Case Manager for CAMBA. Because of Project CHANGE, I learned to develop the skills to be authentic and comfortable with different people, facilitate large groups and have greater sensitivity—I now feel confident to reach out to a broader community and am able to help more individuals than I ever thought possible!” 
- CHANGE Agent

“Outside of academics, I have been able to use my facilitating skills developed in Project CHANGE at Harlem RB, working with children from Grades 2 to 5; and also at The National Society of Leadership and Success at York College. There are several other extracurricular activities that I participate in, such as the Book Club, Music Club and YC Radio on campus. Additionally, I participate in several off-campus activities such as tutoring, coaching, and counseling, just to name a few.  Project CHANGE has greatly fostered growth in my leadership skills by constructing new ones and improving some I had before. Skills such as: devising dramas and event outlines; creative thinking/risk taking; spearheading a governance meeting or a committee; and leading activities.”
- CHANGE Agent

CUNY

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