Theatre-Driven History Programs for Special Needs Students Supported by Funding from The WHAS Crusade for Children
Commonwealth Theatre Center (CTC) received a grant from The WHAS Crusade for Children for the 2018/19 school year in the amount of $5,000 to support programs benefiting young people at Louisville schools that specialize in the education of children with special needs.
The aim of these programs is to develop interpersonal skills, grow confidence and competence working in groups, and improve the ability to think abstractly among students currently enrolled in specialized programs. CTC's expertise working with special needs youth includes previous programming in 2016-17 and 2017-18 with Summit Academy in Middletown that spanned pre-K through high school grade levels.
The first of the programs funded by The WHAS Crusade for Children recently concluded at Friends School, a family cooperative school whose mission is to provide experiential, noncompetitive, child-centered educational opportunities where individual differences are respected and celebrated, and where children with special needs and abilities are welcomed.
CTC brought a 15-week "Exploring History through Drama" program for 5th through 8th graders at the school. In the residency, CTC teaching artists began by introducing students to theatre fundamentals like the actor’s toolkit—body, voice, imagination, and courage—along with concepts like tableau and pantomime. With those tools, students were able to access the historical curriculum from new perspectives. In the sharing exercise at the residency’s culmination, students enacted scenes from modern American history for their classmates, covering major historical and news events and addressing the cultural contexts embedded in them.
The grant from The WHAS Crusade for Children is also supporting programs in spring 2019 at the Binet School, part of Jefferson County Public Schools, which serves students with special needs.