A young man with Autism, a recently graduated journalism major, a 30 something year old musician and a young man with Cerebral Palsey walked into an Improv class–and surprised themselves and everyone else–with their previously undiscovered talent for improvisational comedy.Â A writing group started up in the winter of 2015 with five members–two “neuro-typical women, two people with Autism and one woman with Cerebral Palsey. Two years later the group is going strong: wome weeks more than 10 people are present, and this year, 2017, three regular members’ works will be published. two of these members are people with disabilities
Inclusive Theater of Western New York was begun by people whose children have experienced bullying, harrassment, and social isolation by their typical peers. The cumulative results of these experiences have led in many cases to low self esteem, PTSD, anxiety, and continued social isolation into adulthood.
Inclusive Theater of Western New York addresses the need for inclusion of men and women with disabilities who have lacked opportunities throughout their school careers. We accomplish this by providing acting classes and a writing group in an emotionally safe environment that is condusive to experimentation, free of judgement, harrassement and bullying, and one that reflects the population as a whole. As such, all our classes have a mix of people with different ethnic, religious and socio-economic and disability making up the whole.
For the people who have been attending our programs and classes, new worlds have opened up. One woman who has a developmental disability commented after a Saturday workshop in which the group made sets, wrote and acted in a play: “I never thought I could do anything like this!” Another participant, a professional actor who attended one of our acting classes commented, “I never knew what people who depend on wheelchairs went through”.
In big and small ways, Inclusive Theater of WNY is changing minds and perceptions, of people with disabilities, and people from different educational, social and economic backgrounds. Studies have shown that “inclusion” beneftis everyone.* We are seeing this firsthand in increased awareness, esteem and understanding on the part of all the people we serve.
Please consider making a contribution so we can continue to make a difference in the lives of the people of Buffalo—and beyond!
For information on how to make a donation please call Aimée Levesque, Executive Director, 716-218-8129
*Chandler-Olcott, K. and Kluth, P. (2009), Why Everyone Benefits From Including Students With Autism in Literacy Classrooms. The Reading Teacher, 62: 548–557. doi: 10.1598/RT.62.7.1
Issue online: 9 NOV 2011
Version of Record online: 9 NOV 2011
The Promise of Inclusive Schooling
Moore, C. J. (1997). Educating students with disabilities in general education classrooms: A summary of the research. Juneau: Alaska Department of Education.
GRAPHIC DESIGN BY:
Zemelman, F., Danielson, H., and Hyde, A. (1993). Best practice: New standards for teaching and learning in America’s schools. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.