The mission of Making Light Productions is two-fold: We want to provide high quality, inclusive arts education for kids of all abilities and job opportunities for adults with disabilities. This kind of program does not exist in Tallahassee. (We are a registered non-profit corporation in the State of Florida and our completed 501c3 application is currently being reviewed by the IRS.)
Why is an Inclusive Theatre Arts Program Important?
Other theatre arts programs in the area provide a barrier to kids with cognitive disabilities or developmental delays. Public school theatre programs tend to be audition-based and exclusive, rather than inclusive. Many local private programs require a threshold of independent functioning – requiring a child to participate independently of a parent or therapist – that many kids with disabilities are unable to meet. In addition, we want to provide Autism Movement Therapy as part of our dance schedule -- and we are the only licensed provider of that service in the region.
At Making Light Theatre, we believe an inclusive model is essential not just for the kids with “special” needs – but also their “typical” peers. A neurotypical child who has worked side-by-side with another child with autism to produce a play never has to be taught that this child brings a worthy contribution to the world. This child has been educated in tolerance and acceptance by immersion.
Often, in the arts, a typical child will meet a child with autism who can perform in some way – memorizing lines almost instantly, for instance, or having perfect pitch – that they, as the “normal” child, cannot. The whole concept of who is facing “challenges” and who is “gifted” gets turned on its head, opening their minds to the idea that every person has a legitimate contribution to make. They, in turn, take this experience into the world – a world of diverse people of diverse abilities and challenges – and act accordingly.
Funded by Tallahassee, FL (January 2017)