Imagine watching handmade animal masks dash across the stage as passionate performers sing and dance. The sounds of traditional African drums echo through the air as the performers beam ear to ear, filled purely with joy. At first, this spectacle may sound like a Broadway production, but in reality, it is an even more magical event.
This summer, I had the pleasure of working with PARC and its incredible staff to organize PARC’s first ever Summer Theatre Program. PARC is an organization that provides opportunities for adults and children with developmental disabilities ranging from art and recreation to job training. Clients participate in small skits and acting classes during most of the year, but up until this summer, musical theatre programs were not available.
The experiences I had at PARC during Shorecrest’s Service Week inspired me to reach out to PARC’s Arts Administrator and music therapist, Mattie Mingst, to create a summer performing program that would allow the clients to experience theatre during the summer. I helped develop "Inspired Performers at PARC" and a musical revue for their clients to perform at the end of the summer.
Alongside my theatre classmates RJ A., Dominic H., and Olivia O., Senna P. I worked with the clients on basic acting, singing, and dancing techniques while choreographing our production. Every week, I looked forward to seeing my new friends and watching each individual learn and grow. After many weeks of hard work and rehearsals, our show took place on August 10th in front of a cheering audience of family and friends.
Pictured from left: Dominic H., Olivia O., author Jordan T., Senna P. and RJ A.
During each number of the show, I watched every client command the stage and share their newfound confidence with their families. Mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers of the clients beamed with pride from the beginning of the show to the end. Even the shyest member of the cast pushed past the butterflies of live theatre and performed with confidence. At the end of the show, PARC expressed their sincere thanks to our group of Shorecrest volunteers, and I am so thankful for the opportunities PARC provided to us. Forming valuable friendships with many of the clients alongside my classmates was definitely the most rewarding part of my summer, and watching my friends develop a deep sense of respect for each client made my heart soar.
I would like to provide every student at Shorecrest with the incredible experiences I had at PARC. For that reason, this year, I am introducing a new club to our Shorecrest community - SPARC! Through SPARC, students will meet and form friendships with the clients at PARC, participants in the Special Olympics, and many have other opportunities by attending art shows, athletic competitions, and possibly a prom for special needs adults.
Additionally, we will host drives and fundraisers while advocating for respect and inclusion of all people. SPARC will offer opportunities for athletes, artists, and theatre students, and I am confident that it will be a great addition to Shorecrest’s current clubs. SPARC will also work to offer another PARC summer opportunity alongside other volunteer options throughout the school year. I’m looking forward to a great year for SPARC, and I can’t wait to share my passion with the rest of our community!