Headshot Photo of Jacob Gardenswartz
2014 Award Recipient


Project Theater for Peace

Location La Mesa, CA

Issue Area Advocacy/Activism | Mental Health & Emotional Support

Sitting through a fairly typical school lecture about the ills of bullying, Jacob was inspired to find a more captivating way to get teens to empathize with their peers. Drawing from his passion for theatre, Jacob collaborated to create Theater Of Peace (TOP), a teen theatre troupe that blends anti-bullying and pro-peace messaging with the dynamic energy of live performances, bringing a new twist to anti-bullying programming at schools across San Diego.

The troupe develops short skits and interactive lessons that teach children to become “upstanders”, not “bystanders”. By both encouraging the audience to share their solutions on how to best combat bullying and providing schools with post-performance curricula, TOP turns listeners into participants and ensures that the conversations continue long after the curtain call. This unique approach has successfully rallied 4,000 students around Jacob’s cause and helped TOP to raise nearly $10,000.

We leave the kids with our personal experiences of bullying, and specific methods of stepping in to situations to become ‘upstanders,’ not just ‘bystanders.’

Jacob Gardenswartz
“It is never too late, too early, or too often TO GIVE BACK AND MAKE THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE”
Helen Diller