Castle, Nancy M.
B.S. (Bachelor of Science)
School of Allied Health and Communicative Disorders
The Penguin Project is a group that originated in Peoria, Illinois six years ago. The program offers children, ages 10 to 22, with various disabilities the opportunity to perform in a musical. These children, referred to as the artists, are each paired with a peer mentor to assist them as they rehearse and perform the musical on stage. This program has many benefits, not only for the artists, but for everyone involved. It creates the opportunity for the artists to develop important social skills, be supported and encouraged by their peers, and often discover hidden talents. It also provides the mentors with the chance to work with their peers who have special needs and learn that they are really no different from them. Due to its great success, the Children's Community Theater (CCT) in Sycamore decided to start the program in DeKalb County in 2012. Since then, they have put on two successful musicals and are now preparing for their third later this year. Now that the Penguin Project has been so successful and beneficial for the local community, board members of the CCT would like to create a similar program for adults called the Penguin Players for adults with disabilities 23 years and older, and would be structured much like the Penguin Project is. The idea is to extend the opportunity to participate in theater to adults in the community with disabilities, and also allow alumni from the Penguin Project to still be involved. While this program would be very similar to the Penguin Project, there will be some differences. The Penguin Project typically has a cast comprised of 30 actors and 30 peer mentors, the cast for Penguin Players likely consist of a smaller cast. Due to the differences in working with adults with disabilities, the cast size would be a maximum of 20 actors and 20 peer mentors. In addition, one of the main challenges is where to find peer mentors. While there are often many individuals willing to work with children who have disabilities, it is often much harder to find people willing to work with adults who have disabilities. However, one of the best resources that the Penguin Players will have available to them is the students at Northern Illinois University (NIU). There are many ways in which they would be able to partner with both students and faculty at NIU to find interested mentors and volunteers.
Latimer, Morgan, "Penguin Players" (2012). Honors Capstones. 873.
Northern Illinois University
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