Loyola University Maryland’s “Kids on Broadway” partnership with the Columbia Center for Theatrical Arts continues this spring with a Monday, April 26 performance of songs and dances from the classic musical The Wizard of Oz. The event, the culmination of a months-long program offering youth with disabilities a chance to advance their social skills while working on a musical theater production, takes place at 5 p.m. at Toby’s Dinner Theatre at 5900 Symphony Woods Road in Columbia, Md. Admission is free.
The partnership developed from a chance meeting last summer between Toby’s Dinner Theatre owner Toby Orenstein, CCTA’s artistic director and founder, and Loyola Clinical Centers Director Janet Simon Schreck. Last fall, five children between the ages of 10 and 14 with diagnoses including Asperger’s syndrome, Down syndrome, and learning disabilities worked one-on-one with students enrolled in Loyola’s speech-language pathology master’s program to master songs from High School Musical in ways that supported their ongoing therapy objectives. Two of the children’s typically developing siblings also participated. This spring’s Wizard of Oz program has expanded to include 16 children with disabilities—four of whom participated in the fall program—and three typically developing sibling volunteers.
“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 took place Wednesdays through April 21 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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