ROME LITTLE THEATRE'S
Empowering children with special needs through theatre
Once a year, a magical celebration of the human spirit unfolds in theaters across the country. A group of children in a nationwide program called The Penguin Project take to the stage to perform a musical. These performances are unique, however, because ALL the roles are filled by young artists with disabilities. This includes those with cognitive, learning, motor, hearing and visual impairments as well as genetic and neurological disorders. They are joined on stage by a dedicated group of “peer mentors” – children the same age without disabilities who work side-by-side with them from the first rehearsal through the final performance.
The Penguin Project strives to create a high quality theatre experience, but the greater goal is to impact the lives of the children, their families, and the audience beyond the stage. The process is designed to create a special environment that fosters inclusion, support, and friendship -- all of the things that make theatre so awesome. The program becomes a “comfort zone”, where the young artists are given opportunity and support to explore their creativity and develop communication skills, social skills, and self-confidence; where the peer mentors have an opportunity to help others by being a teacher and a friend; and where audiences have the opportunity to watch children succeed in ways they never thought possible.
In Spring 2021, Rome Little Theatre was honored to be named one of the newest chapters of The Penguin Project, and in Spring of 2022 will begin its first Penguin Project production.