Shropshire schools are being urged to book their places now for the latest hugely popular production of Sparx! - an initiative between fire, police and a theatre group - to get vital anti-arson messages across to pupils.
The thought provoking and clever production of Sparx! is designed to raise awareness of the dangers and consequences of malicious fire setting and anti-social behaviour.
The play begins a six week tour of the West Midlands in June and visits Telford between July 3rd and 7th when it will be performed at The Place in Oakengates.
The production is aimed at Year 8 pupils but is also suitable for Years 6, 7, 9 and 10. As well as key fire safety messages, it deals with bullying, peer pressure and other important issues. Groups will be given a CD of the music and a follow-up pack containing lesson plans for Citizenship, PSHE, English, Dance and Drama.
Martin Timmis, Assistant Divisional Officer at Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service and a member of the Arson Task Force, welcomed the theatre education initiative.
"Education is the key to reducing arson in Shropshire. Thousands of pounds worth of deliberate damage is caused by fire each year in our county and many of it by youngsters during the school holidays.
"In one year in Shropshire our firefighters attended over 1,500 fires involving cars, houses, schools and commercial property of which 45% were started deliberately. There were almost 2,000 secondary (nuisance) fires involving rubbish, skips and grass in the county of which at least 91% were started deliberately. This is an increase of 9% over last year"
Cllr Ian Baker, Cabinet Member for Community and Customer Service said: "Sparx! is vital for raising awareness of life risk issues, presenting important subjects like peer pressure and bullying appropriately and explaining the true life changing consequences of arson.
"It is a fact that half of known arsonists are below the age of 18 and many live close to the arson attack. We need to raise awareness of the devastating consequences of arson so that we can work together to stop it."
Written and performed by the Zip Theatre, Wolverhampton, the first spine tingling Sparx! tour in 2005 was a great success and is being followed up by the launch of the 2006 tour by the West Midlands Arson Task Force.
Attendance is completely free but seat numbers are restricted so schools are being urged hurry up and book places now by contacting Zip Theatre 01902 572250 between 10am and 5pm Monday to Friday.
Last year, the Sparx! Tour received acclaim from youngsters who attended the productions:
"Very thought-provoking and worthwhile. The students enjoyed it. Superb acting and use of resources appealed to a range of learning styles."
"Excellent - a very important message got across in an incredible way. It brought tears to my eyes and a lump to my throat."
Eastfield Primary School