Ever since I can remember I’ve been in love with commercial theatre. I didn’t even really know that there was though provoking theatre until my freshman year of college. Soon after learning that theatre could be though provoking, I learned that theatre can be healing and not just as an escape. When I was 13 I auditioned for the middle school musical to meet friends because I was the new kid, and I was pretty lonely and weird. Theatre helped me and I never really realized it until I started hearing my friends’ plans to open theaters to kids with disabilities.
There seems to be a constant battle over whether arts should be a part of the public school education. I’ve always thought is should be (shocking, I know). Chicago districts 15 and 211 seem to have the right idea about theatre. Students with special needs from ages 7 and up with have the opportunity to take part in the musical theatre experience. Each week the group will rehearse with their peers and therapists with a performance of “Peter Pan” in April. Not only does the program give the kids a safe environment, it also gives them the opportunity to develop their communication skills and self-esteem.
“They’re getting therapy without even realizing they’re getting therapy,” said Ann Fulmer, director of operations for the Special Gifts Theatre. Kids have fun doing theatre whether they have special needs or not. Theatre is great. Art is great. Having the ability to express oneself in a safe space is a invaluable experience and opportunity.
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