Children with developmental disabilities too often hear what they can't do, about the special memories they will miss out on. Not at Expanding Horizons: Broadway Kids, a unique partnership between the Loyola Clinical Centers and the Columbia Center for Theatrical Arts that offers children with social communication disorders a chance to blend speech-language therapy with musical theater. Launched with just seven participants in the fall of 2009, the program served more than 5 times as many students—and a few typically developing peers—this past year in groups based both at the Clinical Centers' facility in Columbia, Md., as well as at a nearby high school. Performances have included renditions of High School Musical, The Wizard of Oz, and Free to Be…You and Me.
The rapid expansion of the program stems from the considerable support it has attracted from two area foundations: the Horizon Foundation and the Columbia Foundation.
The Horizon Foundation, an organization committed to increasing health and wellness in Howard County, where the Broadway Kids program operates, awarded the clinic-based program a grant in 2010.
"We look for opportunities to get involved with innovative programs at the pilot stage and help them grow," said Bob Jeffrey, chair of the Horizon Foundation's investment committee. "One of our strategic goals is to increase access to health interventions for individuals in at-risk populations, and the work the Loyola Clinical Centers is doing with Broadway Kids is closely aligned with that mission."
The Columbia Foundation supported Broadway Kids with a grant that allowed the program to expand into Wilde Lake High School in the fall of 2010.
"Our mission is to inspire people, places, and things in Howard County, Md.," says Beverley Francis-Gibson, the Columbia Foundation's president and chief executive officer. "Loyola's Broadway Kids program does this on so many levels. I saw the kids rehearse in the beginning and perform at the end, and was really impressed by how much they learned in such a short time. The program is so heartfelt in so many ways—to watch the children learn to express themselves on stage touched me as a parent."
This year, the Horizon Foundation more than doubled its support for Broadway Kids, allowing the Loyola Clinical Centers to offer a year-long program at Glenelg School in Howard County. In addition, the fall and spring programs continue at Loyola's Columbia Clinical Centers facility. After a small fall performance, the clinic-based group plans to end the spring session with a large performance at an area theater.
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