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3 September 2004 | Times of Malta

A new drama academy for children will be launched in October designed to increase their confidence, self-esteem, communicative ability and creative talents.

The Helen O'Grady Academy, which has centres in several countries, has over 25 years of

experience in child development.

Alan Montanaro, fresh from an intensive training programme in the UK, will be the principal of the local academy.

"Many other ways to develop children have been tried but I sincerely believe that this is one of the best ways to project their confidence and self-esteem," said an enthusiastic Mr

Montanaro. "I've seen it work. I've seen the results - and they're remarkable".

The Academy's unique programme, in a carefully constructed, progressive syllabus,

addresses these problems and encourages children to develop clear, articulate speech, a fluent delivery and the ability to converse and discuss in a creative manner.

Classes cover speech, movement, creative drama, language development and studio


Having fun is key to the academy's success. "The Helen O'Grady Academy is not in the

business of turning our children into stars, but rather to tap into their inherent creativity and encourage them to burst out of their shells," Mr Montanaro explained.

"There are no end-of-term examinations at the academy because our children have enough academic pressure as it is. There will be no large-scale productions at the end of the year because there can only ever be one Peter Pan or one Cinderella and competition can be counter-productive to the confidence-building of the child."

Parents will be invited to attend a special lesson towards the end of the year to monitor and witness, first-hand, the development of their children.

The prime aim is to give children confidence that is on-going, and skills in verbal

communication. This is taught in a fun way in order to stimulate the children's interest and

enthusiasm. The movement segment of each lesson involves learning various skills and

acting out short stories through music. This is done to help children be more coordinated.

The main part of each lesson is creative, improvised drama. Each term more language skills are introduced so that, gradually, a freer style of drama takes on shape and structure and becomes more like a short play. This promotes a sense of achievement in each child.

The Academy has its roots in Perth, Australia, where Helen O'Grady, a trained drama teacher, professional actress and producer/presenter of children's television shows felt the need for a drama programme that would encourage enthusiasm, energy, a positive approach to life and effective social interaction.

"The more I worked with children, the more I became aware of the need of a self-

development program which would tap into the child's own creativity and increase their

confidence and communication skills in a fun way," she says.

Over the past 25 years, the Academy has helped over 45,000 children worldwide to develop these essential life skills. There are currently 100 branches of the Academy operating in 13 countries. Malta will be the 14th branch that Helen O'Grady has launched in Europe.

For the convenience of parents, the academy will be setting up classes in several different localities around the island, and classes will be held six days a week.

In the first year of operation classes will be run for children between five and 12. In the

second year the age groups will be extended to include 13 - 17 year-old children.

For more information Mr Montanaro can be contacted on 2398 0193 during normal office

hours, or on 7964 7239. Alternatively write to

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