The Penguin Project
What Is The Penguin Project?
The Penguin Project was conceived in 2004 by Dr. Andrew Morgan to give children with special needs an opportunity to participate in the performing arts. "Dr. Andy" is a developmental pediatrician and the former Head of the Division of Child Development at the University of Illinois in Peoria. He created The Penguin Project recognizing that theatre not only provides children with a valuable recreational experience and an opportunity to display their creative talents, but also enhances social interaction, communication skills, assertiveness, and self-esteem.
The Penguin Project strives to demonstrate that individuals with special needs are fully capable of participating in community activities with the same dedication and enthusiasm as others, if given opportunity and support. The origin of the name "Penguin Project" comes from the unique characteristics of penguins. They are extremely playful and curious, and work well together. More importantly, they have a disability that distinguishes them from other birds - they can't fly! Instead, penguins waddle and toboggan on their bellies of the snow, and are excellent swimmers in the water. So like our young artists, they have adapted to the challenges of their environment, and have not allowed their unique difference to interfere with their lives. Our Penguins SOAR!
Young Artists with Special Needs:
The Penguin Project is open to any individual age 9 - 26 with a disability. This includes those with cognitive, learning, motor, hearing and visual impairments as well as genetic and neurological disorders.
The Penguin Project utilizes a peer mentor system, linking each young artist with an age level peer who does not have a disability. The peer mentors work side-by-side with their partners, assisting them throughout the entire rehearsal and performance process.