Chicago-area youth troupe brings real-life drama to MCHS

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record

A sequence of real life problems from child abuse in the home, leading to abusive relationships among teenagers, then later as adult domestic violence, which may include drug addiction and death by suicide or drug overdose, with reference to a heroin-related death in Aledo.

An ongoing generational cycle of heartbreak and tragedy for families of any economic background unless there’s proper awareness and intervention.

With true stories conveyed through a rather unconventional medium that’s social work-based – a teenage performing arts troupe called MWAH! will focus on these and other youth-related issues this Monday morning, Nov. 2, at Mercer County High School, 1500 S. College Ave. in Aledo, beginning at 8:45 a.m. in the high school auditorium.

Participating with the troupe during a 90-minute presentation will be Jennifer Higgins of Geneseo, who lost her 12-year-old son, Joshua Wilson, to suicide.  

The essence of the 13-member MWAH! troupe (acronym for Messages Which Are Hopeful!), whose members range in age from 9 to 16, is real life drama, combined with contemporary music and audience interaction.

Troupe members live in the western and southwestern Chicago suburbs of Naperville, Warrenville, Addison, Elmhurst, Shorewood, and Bolingbrook, as well as the Rockford area.

A common thread is choices and the importance of making the right ones.

A Mercer County High School choral ensemble will join MWAH! troupe members in a song written in memory of a first grader who died in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, and several MCHS students will be recognized as ‘heroes’ for their leadership and for having overcome some personal challenges.

There will be a special recognition of the high school’s varsity football team which, including Aledo High School’s teams, has for the 20th successive year made the state play-offs.

In a rousing upbeat finale, a number of Mercer County High School students will join the MWAH! troupe in a choreographed hip hop dance production, having rehearsed together earlier on Monday morning.

The issues-oriented presentation will be followed by a debriefing-type discussion session over lunch involving interested MCHS students and MWAH! troupe members, focusing on how the issues just experienced impact the MCHS students and how they and high school staff members can work together going forward to effectively deal with these issues.

Coordinating the troupe’s appearance in Aledo has been Amy Degelman, MCHS Student Council adviser; and the principal, Stacey Day.

The not-for-profit troupe is an affiliate of the Chicago Area Project, a grass-roots service and advocacy program, which is part of an Illinois-wide community services network targeting at-risk youth and their families.

Further information about the MWAH! Performing Arts Troupe is available on its website at  HYPERLINK ""