Stigma and fear of discrimination are serious obstacles for people seeking help for mental health challenges. The California Mental Health Services Authority (CalMHSA) along with public relations agency Runyon Saltzman & Einhorn and B Street Theatre, are working to reduce stigma associated with mental illnesses by de‐bunking myths and educating 9‐13 year olds about mental wellness. To do this, B Street Theatre is touring a theatrical performance throughout California that uses storytelling to convey information and nurture conversations about mental health challenges in an age appropriate manner.
These stories, along with teacher facilitation guides and lesson plans provided, are designed to be used as tools by teachers, parents, professionals and youth, in hopes that together we can communicate, cooperate, and cultivate a culture free of mental health stigma. The Walk In Our Shoes campaign utilizes real stories from teens and young adults to teach youth about mental health challenges and mental wellness.
The multifaceted campaign uses positive, authentic and appropriate stories as an educational tool for youth. These stories are also told through an interactive website (Walkinourshoes.org) where visitors can explore and experience true stories of real people who have experienced hope, recovery and resilience in the face of mental health challenges, and through a statewide public education campaign.
Hot off the Press Feedback!
“Your team came up to Calaveras County last week to perform “Walk in Our Shoes” and we can’t thank you enough. One of the performances was at my school, San Andreas Elementary. We had approximately 130 students attend the performance and we got overwhelming positive feedback from students and staff. We had two mental health specialist attend, counselor and psychologist, who agreed with the students. It was a powerful assembly with student engagement. Staff felt is was directed very well to the age group and students could connect.” Principal, San Andreas Elementary, Calaveras Unified
“I was very impressed with the work that our students were able to see….I look forward to having an on-going partnership with your theatre group and hope that we can have you visit our school again.” Principal, Visitacion Valley Middle School, San Francisco Unified
“Loved the performance today! The students really enjoyed it and were attentive throughout the entire thing! Thanks so very much!” Principal, Westmore Oaks K-8, Washington Unfied
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I book the tour for my school or district?
To book the performance contact our Family Series Administrator, Valerie Marston, at 916-443-5391 x114 (or through our Box Office line at 916-443-5300) or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note that we are unable to perform in certain counties.
When is Walk In Our Shoes touring?
The 2016 Tour will be running February 29 – April 29.
What does the performance cost?
There is NO cost to the school. Walk In Our Shoes is funded by counties through the voter-approved Mental Health Services Act (Prop 63).
How long is the performance?
The musical play is 35 minutes and is followed by a 10 minute Q&A.
What does the play cover?
It highlights positive, authentic and appropriate stories as an educational tool for youth and teaches them how to walk in someone else’s shoes. Walk In Our Shoes seeks to communicate the following facts to 9-13 year olds in order to decrease stigma regarding mental illness:
-Mental health challenges are common
-There are different kinds of mental health challenges
-People with mental health challenges can manage/recover to live normal and healthy lives
-The vast majority of people with mental health challenges are as predictable and non-violent as anyone else
Does a school counselor need to be present?
Yes, a district or school counselor MUST be present at the performance. The play was developed in collaboration with the Department of Education and reviewed and vetted by school counselors and cultural experts to ensure that the topic is communicated in an engaging, age-appropriate manner. With that said, a counselor is required in case a student is triggered. While that has rarely occurred in the past, we want to provide the proper support and care for the students.
At the end of the performance a Q&A will take place. The actors will start the Q&A with a few questions of their own for the audience. Typically, these are factual questions about the play or questions about what the audience learned. Then, the floor will be opened for questions. In the past, these have ranged from, “Where did you get that t-shirt?” to comments about their own experience with mental health. All questions regarding mental health will be directed at the school counselor.
How successful has the tour been?
- In 2014 the nine-week tour reached 76 schools in 31 counties, performing for 26,000 children!
- In a pre-post evaluation, we found significant positive shifts occurred after the performance at a Santa Barbara middle school. In addition, the large majority of participants reported that the presentation was a good experience (93%) and that they got very involved and felt what it must be like to have a mental health challenge (81%). Participants of the survey also expressed a greater willingness to interact with students with a mental health problem and felt more caring after viewing the performance. Lastly, nearly three-fourths reported that the presentation was sensitive to their cultural background. Of the participants, 89% were Hispanic.
- Teacher responses indicate a shift in student attitude or behavior after the performance, with many noticing a positive change in student tolerance, understanding or empathy surrounding mental illness. 96% of teachers reported materials provided were useful (e.g. the facilitation guide and lesson plans).
- In 2013 the tour performed in the following counties: Calaveras, Fresno, Kern, Lake, Los Angeles, Mendocino, Modoc, Monterey, Napa, Orange, Placer, Riverside, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Francisco, San Joaquin, San Luis Obispo, Santa Clara, Siskiyou, Sonoma, Stanislaus, Sutter, Trinity, Tulare, Tuolumne, Ventura, Yolo, Yuba
Download the About Walk In Our Shoes pdf document.
Download the Walk In My Shoes FAQ pdf document.