By Lena Horn, Outreach Coordinator
April 3, 2014
When A Place to Be, a non-profit therapeutic arts center based in Middleburg, Virginia, had the idea of launching a pilot music theater production about acceptance and abilities they were thrilled to witness the dramatic impact it had on families and community. They decided to expand the production with the help of a 100WomenStrong grant. By touring Loudoun County schools they were able to reach thousands of students, families, and school faculty. Again they received amazing results! Not only had the twenty-five students (ranging in age from 11-17) gained leaps in self-advocacy, as observed by an independent evaluator, but the audience of mostly middle and high school students learned about people with disabilities. They learned that everyone has differences, everyone has challenges, but we are united by empathy. During the shows, the audience went dead silent, no giggles, no laughter, but there were plenty of tears. Statements like, “I won’t judge others by their label”, and “If I see someone who needs someone to talk to, I will talk to them” poured in. The teens became the voice of the thousands out there like them, truly making a difference in their community.And now the show is being requested all over Loudoun, Warrenton, and Fauquier County. A Place to Be is also finding that this is not only a great tool for students, but for teachers as well and are seeking to make it a continued education for faculty.
“This show was amazing! I cried the entire time.”
“This was one of the best things I’ve ever seen.”
A Place to Be plans to continue the productions in October after some more fundraising. Until then, the teen actors must return to school, where their outlook is much different now. Amidst compliments, gaining courage and leadership skills, and having a far more understanding student body, these amazing teens have a much better view of their future. Look forward to their Summer Music Theater Camp, Best Friend, about a boy and a dog who are very different but find each other, beginning June 16th, as well as the Spring Recital at Hickory Tree Farm on Saturday May 10th.
It’s also important to mention that two of our 100WS members, Wendy Thompson-Marquez and Teresa Wheeler are collaborating to produce a documentary film called High Notes that follows several of the young students at A Place to Be. This powerful film shows in a very real way how music therapy can heal and transform lives for those dealing with traumatic brain injuries and other special needs. Look for more information on this film soon or contact Wendy Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Find out more at www.aplacetobeva.org
The production consists of two parts:
Behind the Label by Kim Tapper: is a powerful production inspired by the students she works with who are tired of being seen as a diagnostic label. This show reminds us to look inside people and ourselves, and recognize that we are more than just labels.
How Far I’ve Come by Amy Stone: is a musical journey into the heart of a teenage girl who sees her Cerebral Palsy not as a disability, but as a gift to teach others about acceptance. Amy takes us into her dreams where she is a fluid dancer and a graceful runner. Humorous and sincere, the show makes you question, think and laugh. Amy helps us understand that we are all different but we all live beneath the same sky.