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Mindful Parenting: Raising Happy, Healthy Kids
The Play is the Thing

The Adventure Game Theater is one of those experiences for which words seem inadequate. Brought to the Omega Institute in upstate New York 12 years ago by its creators, Howard Moody and Brian Allison, it is a colorful blend of fantasy, improvisation, and discovery--and all of it, for teenagers only.

"In other cultures, in other times, there have been much more clear rites of passage for kids," says Omega co-founder Elizabeth Lesser. "It's very confusing to be a teenager today. What this program does is give a sense of ritual to the stage that these teenagers are going through."

From its beginning early in Omega's annual "Family Week" through the days and nights that follow, each "adventure" has its own story line that is then brought to life by as many as 100 young people, aged 12 to 18. Each story is wildly imaginative, with oracles, healers, wizards and wise women, gods and goddesses, merchants, and thieves. Players can be as inventive as they please; costumes, masks, and makeup help add excitement to the mix.

"It's like being in your own movie," says Moody, who, along with Allison, first came up with the idea as a vehicle for adults. After its introduction, however, teenagers loved the program so much that it has been theirs ever since. "We prepare for several days, so that by Wednesday night when the story actually begins, the kids have the feeling that they're about to enter a wonderful fantasy. In an eight-hour story, many of these players are living out a whole mythic fantasy, living deeply through their characters."

The larger message of coexistence and peaceful conflict resolution is cleverly disguised by the playful nature of the adventure. If an AGT player goes home with a new understanding of the challenges in getting along with other people--how to balance the enthusiasm of the 12-year-olds with the more reasoned approach of the 18-year-olds, for example--so much the better. But it's never imposed on them in a way that seems heavy-handed.

What the players remember is how much fun it was, in addition to what it taught them. "You have a character that you've been given by someone else and you become that character," recalls 17-year-old Terre Unité Parker, a college freshman and an AGT veteran. "It's not like pretending; it's like you truly feel in your heart whatever's happening to that character. I've cried over somebody I lost, I've been completely joyful about saving some group, and when you're in those moments, you lose yourself inside that character. The character shows me qualities about myself that I haven't discovered before, who I really am inside--that I can be all those different things. It's so wonderful to realize that."

Find out more about Adventure Game Theater on the web at www.agt.org or e-mail AGT at info@agt.org. The organization can also by reached by telephone or the U.S. mail at the following:

P.O Box 416
Lee, MA 01238
(888) 792 7529

 

Program Description
Adventure Game Theater
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Body & Soul is currently airing Monday-Friday at 7:00pm and 8:30pm on PBS YOU.

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