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The HATS Manual -> Background -> Preface

"HATS is consistent with the mission of St. Christopher House. In fact it has significantly improved our capacity to work with vulnerable people to assist them to gain more control over their own lives and in their communities. It empowers individuals to address problems they are experiencing and to work together with others to find ways to address these problems."

Susan Pigott, St. Christopher House CEO 2002

St. Christopher House (St. Chris) has worked with the multicultural neighbourhoods of south west Toronto, Ontario, Canada since 1912. Our central purpose is the enabling of less advantaged community members - individuals, families and groups - to gain greater control over their lives and community. St. Christopher House is not affiliated with any religious denomination.

Based on the settlement house movement, St. Chris has been a place of "firsts" in Toronto. We introduced services such as Meals-on-Wheels, Home Help, Adult Literacy, and a multilingual/multicultural Alzheimer Day program. We are also the first in Toronto to have a community development worker whose priority has been on community consultation and program development in response to community needs.

In keeping with our history of innovative and responsive community development work, St. Christopher developed Health Action Theatre by Seniors (HATS). We, the project staff, were challenged to deepen our knowledge of popular education, particularly in popular theatre. It also challenged us to look ahead and seize the opportunity to become agents of transformation with the target population, within our community and within the health and social service sectors.

We invite you, our peer community workers, through this handbook, to open yourself to the opportunity to use this effective tool, Action Theatre, in your work as an enabler within the senior community you serve.

This manual is intended for community workers, group leaders, individuals interested in senior theatre or in the use of theatre as a community development and education tool.

Please remember that this manual is the result of the adaptation of Action Theatre to the realities of the groups we worked with during the course of the Health Action Theatre by Seniors (HATS) project. Nothing here is written in stone. The instructions in this online manual are just guidelines, not prescriptions that need to be followed step by step. We encourage facilitators to change and/or adapt things to their own realities, likes, dislikes, and desires.

We hope you enjoy this manual. Please send us an email to let us know about your impressions, comments, and suggestions.


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