Spotlight Shines on Developmentally Disabled

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Monday, November 8, 2010
Cast members, Steve and Danny, receive direction in a crucial scene with Scrooge and Marley.

A new local project is shedding light on the hidden talents of some remarkable individuals.

These talents will be showcased during a December presentation of "A Christmas Carol," performed by 47 developmentally disabled adults.

The performers are part of Project Stage Light, a new program created to provide cultural arts opportunities for children and adults with special needs. The project is sponsored by the Association for persons with Intellectual Disabilities (AID), in conjunction with VIP Industries. The name of the project evolved as its organizers witnessed how the artistic process transformed the performers and revealed their hidden talents.

As this first season of the program unfolds, talents in art, music, dance, and theater are being discovered as the VIP employees come forward expressing their desire to perform in the play. For some, becoming an actor has helped them come out of their shell, exposing a whole new personality to their peers.

Those personalities are even developing in the characters of the play, as Director Meagan Edmonds has adapted the play to fit the actors' interpretations of the roles they are playing. While the play will stay true to the story line, it will be told in a new way. The excitement of the Stage Light cast is infectious, but the production really thrives because of the enthusiasm of the staff members and involvement by the local community.

Rehearsals for the performance began in August under the direction of Edmonds, a recent graduate of Southeast Missouri State University. Edmonds was an actor and director for the Hampstead Stage Company, an educational theater for children.

The Association for persons with Intellectual Disabilities (AID) has created new programs, such as Project Stage Light, to give individuals with disabilities the same opportunities others receive. It is the goal of this project to highlight the participants' natural gifts, to give them a sense of accomplishment, and to help them grow and reach their potential.

Additional theater and cultural arts opportunities, such as art and music programs, are slated for development next year. If you, or someone you know, is developmentally disabled and is interested in participating in Project Stage Light, please contact Lori at 573-334-1166 for more information.

If you are interested in volunteering as a peer mentor, guiding a performer through the rehearsals and performances planned for next year, please contact us. Mentors of all ages are needed. To find out more information, our new website currently under construction, is located at www.vipindustries.com/AID.

The Association for persons with Intellectual Disabilities (AID), formerly known as The Cape Girardeau County Association for Retarded Citizens, Inc., is a local not-for-profit organization dedicated to the welfare of persons with intellectual, mental, and developmental disabilities.

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