Project Daylight

Encouraging Mental Wellness

A collaboration between The Coterie Theatre and UMKC School of Social Work

Scheduling for the spring semester will begin on Monday, January 23, for presentations February 6 through July 31, 2023.
(Email Stephanie at to be contacted once scheduling begins)

Offered FREE of charge to 6th and 7th grades in the Kansas City area, Project Daylight supports mental wellness in pre-teens/teens. Pairing a trained actor/facilitator with a graduate student in social work, the classroom-sized session addresses mental health through an innovative, interactive theatre workshop that introduces middle school students - an often-underserved group - to mental wellness concepts. Project Daylight's goals are to de-stigmatizing asking for help, opening dialogue, and providing resiliency tools.

  • Captures students attention with dramatic presentation based on real stories of Kansas City teens dealing with anxiety and depression
  • Engages students with on-your-feet wellness activities moderated by UMKC Masters of Social Work students paired with a professional actor/facilitator
  • Introduces self-management skills to regulate emotions and to monitor/achieve behaviors related to school and life success
  • Aims to create early intervention and, as a result, prevent serious mental health crisis in later years

Audience Limit:  Classroom sized group.  Multiple presentations welcome!
In-Person Classes:  Students must be in-person to participate, allowing access to the school's counselor.
Length:  45-50 minutes.
Cost: Free of charge.
*a mileage fee may be charged for travel outside the Kansas City metro area

CLICK HERE to Book Project Daylight for Your Class

For more information or to be contacted once scheduling begins:
Stephanie Laaker
Booking Coordinator or 816.994.8832


  • 1 in 5 will experience a serious mental illness by age 18.
  • 1 in 12 high school teens attempt suicide.
  • Anxiety is the most common, affecting one third of adolescents.

There are many schools in the greater Kansas CIty area with little or no teen mental wellness support. Kansas City educators have communicated the need for programming for middle school students on mental health. The hope of Project Daylight is to create early intervention and, as a result, prevent serious mental health crisis in later years.


Help us send Project Daylight into all KC area schools free of charge. Designed to engage teens on difficult subjects while refusing to talk down to them, Project Daylight aims to break down the stigma and stereotypes around mental health. Stand up with our amazing group of donors that are supporting a program that empowers teens by providing them with essential mental health education.

As a new program for The Coterie, Project Daylight needs a firm foundation for it’s pilot season, and that can only happen one brick at a time. In December 2019, The Coterie is launching a fundraising campaign that will support its education programs, including Project Daylight. A gift of only $100.00 sends a trained UMKC Masters of Social Work student and a Coterie actor into a KC-area school. Donations of $2,500 or more will be honored with a Project Daylight Brick on The Coterie’s lobby wall and inclusion in future Project Daylight promotions.

CLICK HERE to Make a Donation Now


Our Dramatic STD/HIV Project was an award-winning arts education program that educated Kansas City youth in schools for over 25 years. This program engaged teens in a dramatic and impactful way that changed teen attitudes on HIV and STD transmission.

  • Collaboration with UMKC Schools of Medicine, Pharmacy, Nursing & Health Studies; and KU School of Nursing
  • Presented free of charge in schools and community organizations throughout Greater KC
  • 7,000 teens served through 200 presentations annually
  • 200,000+ youth served from 1993-2022

Project Daylight Advisors

  • Julia Harkleroad, MS, LCMFT, RYT 200,
  • Jessica Chanos, MS, MA, PPS
  • James Copaken, LCSW, LSCSW; Psychotherapist, Copaken Counseling LLC
  • Avis Smith, LSCSW, LCSW. Adjunct Instructor, KU School of Social Welfare; Former Director of Trauma Smart, Crittenton Children’s Center

Project Daylight Founding Sponsors

  • Copaken Family Foundation
  • Graves Family Foundation
  • H&R Block Foundation
  • Menorah Heritage Foundation

Project Daylight Event Sponsors

  • Sarah & Jon Baum
  • Casey Brock
  • Amanda Beaver & Ryan Drigans
  • Jan Church
  • Torrie & Scott Colangelo
  • Brian and Niki Henegar
  • Kathy & Mark Donovan
  • Cathy & Steve Doyal
  • Jackie & Bill Fromm
  • Amy & Eric Graham
  • Gurley Foundation
  • Laura & David Hall
  • Herman Foundation
  • Kara & Andrew Harmon
  • Yvonne Jameson
  • Margaret & Jeff Jones
  • Madison & McClean Kistner
  • KPMG
  • Stefano and Rhea LeGrande
  • Karen & Rick Luchinsky
  • Lori & David Riddle
  • T.J. & Susannah Sotos
  • Theresa & Shaun Stoker
  • Andrew Van der Laan & Rebecca Schweitz

Project Daylight Ambassadors

  • Jenny Atterbury & Ed Stevens
  • Susan Bernstein & Chuckers Luetje
  • Stephanie & Henry Bond
  • Casey & Randy Brock
  • BK Christopher & Tony Wissel
  • Carolyn & Scott Ellspermann
  • Jackie & Bill Fromm
  • Erin & Steve Gorny
  • Julia Harkleroad, MS LCMFT, RYT 200
  • Mary & Jeff Morris
  • Laura & Reuben Perin
  • Susannah & T.J. Sotos