TNCC Raises Awareness About Disabilities, Depression with Play and Panel Discussion

Published: February 5, 2010

TNCC and Had to Be Productions, a theatrical group based in California, will present “Into the Fire” at the Dr. Mary T. Christian Auditorium (MTCA), Templin Hall, on the Hampton campus. Performances will take place Tuesday, February 23 at 9:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.

Free and open to the public, the play explores the stories of disabled veterans who work to adapt to life at home after experiencing combat-related trauma in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Vietnam.

Through “Into the Fire,” Had to Be Productions will use humor and music while introducing characters who suffer from such conditions as post traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injuries, hearing loss, loss of limbs, chronic pain and mobility challenges. Coupled with these challenges are their aspirations to become effective members of their families and communities. Many also aspire to pursue educational opportunities or enter the workforce.

Following the performance, the actors/playwrights will facilitate a discussion based on the story to explore the impact of veterans in our communities. “Had to Be Productions, in a very powerful and creative way, helps create awareness, empathy, and opens a dialogue about ways to respond to veterans and their needs at TNCC and in our community,” said TNCC Disabilities Services Coordinator Richard Hurst.

After gathering statistics from several studies concerning mental health on college campuses, Hurst recognized urgency for this kind of program. “In a multi-year ‘Healthy Minds Study,’ Daniel Eisenberg reports that one in five college students reports depression, anxiety or panic disorder. This is startling that in a class of 35 students, it is possible that seven students are dealing with these challenges,” said Hurst.

The “Healthy Minds Study” is an annual survey that examines mental health issues among college students. The study is conducted through a partnership between the University of Michigan School Of Public Health, the multidisciplinary University of Michigan Comprehensive Depression Center, and the Center for Student Studies in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Hurst hopes “Into the Fire” will lay the foundation for increased inclusion and awareness among students and members of the community at large.

Based in Venice, California Had to Be Productions was founded in 1997. The company uses humor, music and real-life stories to create awareness, foster inclusion and fuel discussions about disabilities, race, religion and other social issues.

The team also caters to corporate clients and government agencies with productions that address diversity and other issues that arise in the workplace.

To RSVP for “Into the Fire,”  please call 825-2867. For more information about Had to Be Productions, please visit



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