By Nik Olsen
Gaby Ocádiz, a CSU alumna who earned a Masters degree in Music Education, directs a child-led theater program at the CSU Todos Santos Center in Baja California Sur, Mexico. Kids Do It All was created by CSU Theater Professor Walt Jones and took place at CSU in Fort Collins until Ocádiz helped bring the program to Todos Santos.
Kids Do It All in Todos Santos is a week-long music and theater program, that brings together Mexican and American children to compose an original play, design costumes and scenery, and perform a play for the community. Music, theater, dance and art students from CSU, local volunteers and university students from Baja California Sur mentor the children through the process and work to create greater cultural understanding within the children. Read more about Kids Do It All.
Ocádiz recapped her experiences with the program:
What has Kids Do It All done for you, and done for the children involved in the program?
GO: I am originally from Mexico City. I went to Colorado State University to study my Masters in Music Education mainly to develop professionally, but with the idea that I could eventually go back to my home country and teach music to as many children as possible. My Masters was based on an approach for music learning (Kodály) that bases music instruction on experiences of children’s heritage, folksongs, and children’s singing and clapping games. My interest has always been to find a way to adapt this Hungarian methodology to Mexican context. In 2014, I was given the opportunity to participate at Kids Do It All in Todos Santos, I was able to go back to Mexico, and share a beautiful playful and musical experience with Mexican and American children.
On the other hand, the program is a great opportunity for children to live the process of exploring, improvising, learning, writing, acting, painting, designing, composing, and performing, something created completely on their own. Kids Do It All, is a unique space for them to share a creative experience along with children of a completely different reality and country, and in two different languages, which makes the program an opportunity for multicultural learning for everyone involved. Children leave happy every day, after having a fun day of creating something on their own, from a song to a play.
How many Kids Do It All programs have been done in Todos Santos, and how many are planned?
GO: There have been two programs (2014 and 2015), but we hope we can keep doing it for a long time. Kids Do It All is a unique experience for two cultures to encounter through arts!
What has been your favorite production so far?
GO: It is really hard to say I’ve liked one more than the other. I’ve enjoyed being part in the creative process of each of them. They are all different and they represent the hard work of too many people, the counsellors, children, their parents, and the community.
How did you get started with this program?
GO: I wanted to work during summer and I found out about KDIA in Fort Collins. During my interview, they saw I was originally from Mexico. I met Walt, had a nice conversation about the possibilities of teaching, playing music, and learning from him and the program, and I was finally invited to go as a counsellor in 2014.
What have you learned working with Kids Do It All?
GO: I’ve learned that working together with the community: the children, the counselors, and the families, is the most important part of doing the program. We all have something to give. I’ve learned that children are able to do more than what we think of, they are naturally creative, and they only need to be provided with tools to help them develop their own ideas. Language is not an impediment for communication. There are many different ways to have fun, learn and create together without speaking the same language.
What have been the greatest challenges and greatest rewards so far?
GO: The greatest reward is watching children have fun through arts, especially through music and theater. The greatest challenge is the organization of the trip, travel, materials, schedule, activities, and the calls for children from Mexico and Colorado, and so forth. I would say that all the planning prior to the program is the most challenging, because we want to make sure that we will get the best out of it.