The Columbia Center for Theatrical Arts (CCTA) has long offered a "Kids on Broadway" program that allows area youth a chance to develop their musical theater skills and perform excerpts from popular Broadway shows under the guidance of CCTA's professional staff. Now, thanks to a unique partnership with Loyola University Maryland's Clinical Centers, the program has expanded to include a special class in which children with developmental disabilities can advance their speech-language pathology therapy while rehearsing for a Nov. 18 performance of songs and dances from High School Musical.
The partnership developed from a chance meeting this past summer between Toby's Dinner Theater owner Toby Orenstein, CCTA's artistic director and founder, and Loyola Clinical Centers Director Janet Simon Schreck. While children with developmental disabilities had participated in Kids on Broadway performances previously, they had never had the opportunity to combine their musical pursuits with their therapy needs. Through the partnership, five children between the ages of 10 and 14 with diagnoses including Asperger's syndrome, Down syndrome, and learning disabilities work one-on-one with students enrolled in Loyola's speech-language pathology master's program to master the show's songs in ways that support their ongoing therapy objectives. Two of the children's typically developing siblings are also participating in the performance.
"This partnership represents a remarkable opportunity for the Clinical Centers to work with one of the area's leading cultural organizations on a program that allows our clients to pursue therapy goals in ways that are fun and rewarding for all children," said Simon Schreck. "It also enables our graduate students in speech-language pathology to develop their own clinical skills by providing clients with specific therapy activities that complement the material they are learning for the performance."
The program's weekly rehearsals continued through Nov. 11, and the final performance will take place on Nov. 18 at 5 p.m. at Loyola's Columbia Graduate Center, which houses the Columbia branch of the Clinical Centers. The Loyola Clinical Centers, which offer speech-language pathology, psychology, education, and pastoral counseling services provided by Loyola graduate students under the close supervision of faculty, has served the Columbia and greater Howard County areas for six years.
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