A fantastic program that I’ve been lucky to be part of, To Protect, Serve and Understand, is sadly coming to an end in two weeks. Our culminating performances—not to be missed—will be Friday and Saturday, March 25th and 26th. We will eloquently demonstrate how uniforms and civilians can communicate with each other with a smile on their faces while in the same room. Reserve your free seats.

The open discussions we have during the meal before each workshop continue to be enlightening. One interesting thing that we spoke about was how the cops do their hazing and deal with the day-to-day stresses of the job in a toxic workplace. Some of the officers’ comments towards each other made the hair on the back of my neck stand up! My initial thought was that we do not give the officers enough mental health support. As the conversation continued, I realized that the problem was much deeper than just providing some additional mental health support. Toxic workplace environments—and the resulting workplace stress—have negative effects on people. They often try to reduce their stress by behaving in ways that actually increase stress and toxicity in themselves and those around them.

The exercises and workshops we’ve been doing have helped me to understand better what the officers are coping with and dealing with on the job—the other actors in the program (cops and civilians) are also seeing things from each other’s point of view. I like the fact that the cast has diverse backgrounds. The uniforms who want to be better are in the program, not the officers who really need it.

Each of the exercises we do highlights how crucial good communication is for us from a very young age throughout life. We need to better educate people on essential communication and boundaries as a whole. How do we add this to all youth education starting at the primary school level? Having the tools to cope with and deal with the different stresses in life and develop healthy coping and awareness mechanisms is positive for everyone. Let’s start the discussion!

That’s going to be part of my next art project—stay tuned.

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