Aboriginal Youth Mean Business!

Elissa Kixen

Métis youth celebrates improv comedy school success

Elissa Kixen celebrates the graduation of the first class of the theatre school she launched this spring. The Improv Experience - an improvisational comedy and theatre instruction school for children and youth. Elissa is the Artistic Director, her partner Derek is a co owner, and both are instructors.

This was a lifetime dream for Elissa, as she was part of an improv team at her own high school and has personally been involved in improv for over 12 years.

The Improv Experience gives kids a way to express themselves and build self-esteem. Students receive training in areas such as mime, character development, stand up and long form improve. This year, they will perform a final performance and receive graduation certificates at the Colin Jackson Studio of the Prairie Theatre Exchange.

Elissa believes that theatre instruction and a positive approach benefit youth. "Improvisation can help improve a person's communication skills in any situation as well as raise self esteem. Giving positive feedback constantly is what contributes to higher confidence."

The first round of classes were aimed at Métis youth in foster care and youth at risk. Now Elissa is also interested in working with other types of organizations to reach more groups of people in the community. "I would like to run workshops just for women - especially women who were sex trade workers or at risk of living that lifestyle. I don't think I can solve the problems in other peoples' lives but I believe I can assist people in expressing themselves in an artistic and healthier way."

The Improv Experience offers 15 class sessions through schools, community organizations, and social service agencies. If your organization is interested in providing this unique self esteem building and recreation opportunity to its group, please contact Elissa Kixen, Artistic Director at 788-4871 or email thekixens@shaw.ca for more information.

Elissa participated in last fall's Métis Youth Build a Business program in partnership with The Louis Riel Capital Corporation. The program offered small business development training, business plan development assistance, small business counselling and a living allowance supported by Service Canada for Youth, as well as SEED's Saving Circle money management and matched savings program.

Elissa suggested that while starting a new business was quite the challenge, free business support services from organizations like SEED and others were instrumental in helping achieve all of her goals. She mentioned that they helped her with everything from business plan writing and keeping an open mind to other responsibilities of running your own business.

Elissa acknowledged "One of the biggest advantages of using resources like SEED was not only the business advice they gave me, but also the encouragement they continually provided me along the way".