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Program Offers Therapy Through Musical Theater

Special Needs Program Offers Therapy Through Musical Theater for Students

Students with special needs in Illinois are taking the stage as they participate in a new theater program, Special Gifts Theatre, which aims to serve as a therapeutic escape. 

Special Gifts Theatre will bring its experience to the Community Consolidated School District 15 and District 211 in November, said an article in the Chicago Tribune. The group will perform "Peter Pan" at Walter Sundling Junior High in April. 

"The neat thing about it is, the actors have a variety of different types of needs and they bring therapists in to work with the kids," said Jenni Bennett, chair of SPARK, Special Education Parents Accessing Resources and Knowledge, a district-wide PTA group for parents of children with special needs.

"They're getting therapy without even realizing they're getting therapy," said Ann Fulmer, director of operations for the Special Gifts Theatre. Bennet added that it "is a great opportunity for students with special needs to use the stage as a way to build their communication and self esteem, and work as a team."

The program, the article said, is free for ages 7 to adults and those participating attend the schools in District 15 and District 211. The participants, according to Bennett, "include those with Down syndrome, autism and ADHD."

"The theater program allows parents to do something to support their kids and gives the kids a chance to showcase their talents in a supportive environment, she said."It's also an opportunity for more typical students to come alongside them and be their peer mentors."

Fulmer said the Special Gifts Theatre's mission is to "break down stereotypes in the community."

"The peer mentors quickly realize that the special needs kids are just like them."

Read the full story.

Article by Kassondra Granata, EducationWorld Contributor

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