New SHARP training uses theater to teach lessons
October 2, 2013
FORT BENNING, Ga., (Oct. 2, 2013) -- Soldiers from the 14th Combat Support Hospital received two days of Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention training in the form of theater and interactive discussion last week.
The Relevant Realistic Interactive Theater program, or R2IT, was presented by Soldiers from the 44th Medical Brigade to offer a new approach to SHARP awareness beyond safety briefs or PowerPoint slides. R2IT member, Staff Sgt. James Gavrilov, said the initiative has received positive reviews at Fort Bragg since forming in June.
"Sexual assault and sexual harassment is a huge issue through military ranks, so we're trying to offer a different training environment to push the message that this is not OK and this behavior needs to change from within," Gavrilov said. "This form of training is aimed at bringing a different method to try to make that happen."
Spc. Nicole Lopez, actor and facilitator for the R2IT presentations, said the team of 20 actors are given a variety of topics such as domestic violence, substance abuse and suicide prevention and develop dialogues to write scripts.
"They get to interact with their peers and how they think and how they would handle certain situations," Lopez said. "We know that they walk away with something that they didn't before they walked in."
A skit performed by Gavrilov, Staff Sgt. Kerri Washington, Pfc. Lola Risovic and Sgt. Latoya Jeffries depicted four Soldiers entangled in a sexual assault incident after a night of drinking and dancing at a house party. After the skit, the audience asked questions to actors while still in character and participated in facilitated discussions. SHARP personnel also sat in the audience to offer guidance and perspective on discussion topics such as the definition of sexual assault, the importance of protecting battle buddies and accountability.
"We are always trying to perfect what we're doing," Gavrilov said. "We try to get the acting as best as possible, but what's most important is the message we are trying to get out there."
At the end of the presentation, Soldiers were asked to complete a survey. Spc. Sade Hodges said the training provided information that would help Soldiers understand the reality of sexual assault.
"Overall, I felt the skit was well done and I loved the interaction while the actors were in character," Hodges said. "I believe everyone walked away with something and a deeper sense of understanding of how people might feel in that situation. In the military, we have to have loyalty and be able to trust each other. "
Col. Paula Lodi, commander of 14th CSH, said the training sessions were also effective in providing a platform to leverage dialogue between various ranks.
"It had senior, mid-level and junior Soldiers all sit together and hear each other's perspectives on the training," Lodi said.
" I think we have a good point of departure to be able to have some realistic conversations because we all saw the same thing and heard each other's perspective on how we heard and what we saw from the training. What I hope is that it will keep that communication flowing between junior, mid-level and senior levels."