Mirror Image Arts is established to “encourage positive body image and self-worth by creating an emotional connection through theatrical performance”.
Mirror Image Arts achieves its 501(c)3 status.
Breaking the Silence, a play featuring the stories of people who have experienced eating disorders, travels to schools all across the state of Colorado.
Due to lack of income diversity, and the founder’s personal and professional priorities shifting, Mirror Image Arts begins to decline.
Through the strength and resolve of the founder, new leadership is identified. Mirror Image Arts will live on.
A new mission, logo, and 90 min program are designed in collaboration with teachers, administrators, parents and youth.
In order to effect lasting change, more time with young people is needed. Mirror Image Arts launches it’s 6 week “Your Voice” program.
Mirror Image Arts hires a full-time Executive Director, Andrea Rabold.
The Mirror Image Arts team begins its long journey to overcome its income diversity challenges as it moves from Start-up to Growth.
Hitting a Stride
Mirror Image Arts is led by 3 full time employees; 12 contractors, 8 board members including a youth board member; and 15 dedicated volunteers.
Mirror Image Arts adds three new programs to its lineup - “It Starts With Us”, “Restorative Theatre”, and “Rehearsal for Reality”.
Building our strategic plan that will envision a future for Mirror Image Arts years to come, including a new program for K-2nd grade youth.
A New Path
Mirror Image Arts grows as an organization and now uses theatre to help youth avoid the school-to-prison pipeline in metro Denver through social-emotional learning.
Founding – 2008 – 2011
Erin Jorgensen founded Mirror Image Arts in 2008, because she wanted to “encourage positive body image and self-worth by creating an emotional connection through performance.” A survivor of an eating disorder herself, Jorgensen knew firsthand the power of theatre to process and heal.
Unfortunately, by 2011 the organization was in decline due to lack of income diversity. At this time, Jorgensen’s personal and professional priorities had shifted. She handed the organization off to a new executive director, Andrea Rabold.
Transition and Expansion: 2011 – 2019
Rabold assembled a new board of directors and performed a community needs assessment. That assessment identified that while eating disorders are a problem, they are a symptom of an underlying issue. Here, youth, parents and educators identified bullying – and the link is in the statistics: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services states that victims of bullying suffer higher rates of behavioral, psychological, and emotional problems that can lead to dangerous consequences such as self-harm and suicide. With bullying identified as a focus, we began to research preventative methods.
Research indicates that social-emotional learning (SEL) proves imperative to reducing bullying behaviors. SEL skills include self-awareness, self-management, relationship skills, and decision making. SEL also helps young people to thrive in social and academic environments. Based on this research the organization re-emerged in 2013 with a new mission:
“Mirror Image Arts uses theatre as language to inspire dialogue, encourage awareness and promote action in order to build a strong, compassionate and empowered community.”
In 2014, new programming that encourages Social Emotional Learning in at-risk youth was launched. Programming has been offered in schools, community centers, and juvenile detention centers. The value and quality of our programming was recognized, demand for our services increased, and Mirror Image Arts grew into a stable, healthy organization.
The New Lens: 2020 and beyond
As needs change, so too does our programming. In early 2020, strategic planning identified and added a new focus to our work: to disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline. The pipeline is a charged and complicated issue, but we found it affecting youth everywhere we operated. That is, not just the juvenile detention centers but also in the schools and communities where we operate.
In short, ensuring “safe” schools through 1. Zero Tolerance Policies and 2. increased police presence in public schools has led to minor infractions being treated as criminal offences. The result is drastic, exclusionary punishment ranging from detention to incarceration. Once students have been affected, they are often trapped.
Many of these children have learning disabilities or histories of poverty, abuse, or neglect, and would benefit from additional educational and counseling services. Instead, they are isolated, punished, and pushed out.
Through study of the issue and consultation with lead researchers in the field, we have learned that Mirror Image Arts can have a real impact. SEL and theatre can create safe, honest spaces where youth can build and maintain positive relationships with adults and their peers. They can process the challenges and trauma they have faced and work toward healing. As of 2020, we offer these spaces alongside opportunities to practice healthy life choices through rehearsal for reality (or role play) – programming designed very deliberately to build resilience and help youth avoid – or escape – the pipeline.