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Theatre Acting Classes for Kids and Adults with Disabilities

Kids and adults with disabilities are encouraged to sign up for free theatre acting classes beginning March 19th.

Classes for kids will begin on Monday, March 19th at 5:30-6:30PM.
Click HERE for kids registration.

Classes for adults will be held on Mondays starting on March 19th from 7:00-8:00PM.
Click HERE for adult registration.

Each class is 1 hour long. The place for classes will be determined soon but it will be in Moscow, ID. Class size is limited to the first 15 applicants, so please respond quickly.
The classes are being sponsored by Families Together and Artists Striving to End Poverty (ASTEP). Parents, professionals, and researchers are always searching for new ways to help individuals with disabilities, and there is a growing interest in using theatre to do so. Theatre activities can be used to teach emotion recognition, non-verbal behaviors and gestures, listening skills, eye contact, conversation skills, strategies to handle social situations, and other social skills.

Particular features of theatre-based strategies make them especially useful when working with individuals with disabilities:

-The theatre is a safe place for individuals to try new things/make mistakes
-Theatre is inherently fun and motivating
-Theatre is highly STRUCTURED (an actor has prescribed lines and actions)
-Theatre strategies are usually inexpensive (just need an idea, space, and time)
Theatre activities allow for repeated practice of specific skills i.e. appropriate responses in conversation, recognizing nonverbal facial expressions of others, both positive and negative, suitable greetings and farewells, initiating friendships and conversations with others, introducing others, conversational tones and appropriate voice volume, manners and conversational etiquette, accepting help and giving and receiving compliments.

Because generalization of skills is difficult for children with disabilities, social skills training needs to take place within play and community activities, not through class instruction. Appropriate social skills training for children with disabilities can have a significant effect on the quality of the individual’s life and, will be a benefit for the community at large.

Class size is limited to the first 16 students that register

Artists Striving to End Poverty  (ASTEP) at the University of Idaho (U of I)  and Families Together are collaborating to offer acting/theatre classes for families with disabilities.

Weekly classes will be offered to children with disabilities on the U of I campus. Parents, professionals, and researchers are always searching for new ways to help individuals with disabilities, and there is a growing interest in using theatre to do so. Theatre activities can be used to teach emotion recognition, emotion expression, non-verbal behaviors and gestures, listening skills, eye contact, conversation skills, strategies to handle social situations, and several other critical social skills. Practitioners and parents are using masks to promote eye-contact and social skills, creating exercises to train individuals to refine observation skills, teaching body awareness through movement, building friendships through performance projects, and more.

Particular features of theatre-based strategies make them especially useful when working with individuals with disabilities:

-The theatre is a safe place for individuals to try new things/make mistakes

-Theatre is inherently fun and motivating

-Theatre is highly STRUCTURED (an actor has prescribed lines and actions)

-Theatre strategies are usually inexpensive (just need an idea, space, and time)

-Theatre activities allow for repeated practice of specific skills i.e. appropriate responses in conversation, recognizing nonverbal facial expressions of others, both positive and negative, suitable greetings and farewells, initiating friendships and conversations with others, introducing others, conversational tones and appropriate voice volume, manners and conversational etiquette, accepting help and giving and receiving compliments.

One of the core difficulties for children with disabilities is social skills impairment. They often have difficulty using and interpreting non-verbal communication, understanding others’ perspectives and tolerating the stimuli associated with social interactions.  This impairment can lead to interpersonal and social isolation, and a host of secondary problems such as anxiety, depression and suicide. It also affects their ability to function in peer groups, at school, and later as adults, in the workplace.

Research indicates that social-skills training is an effective treatment for this population and that the earliest intervention is best.  Because generalization of skills is difficult for children with disabilities, social skills training needs to take place within play and community activities, not through class instruction. Appropriate social skills training for children with disabilities can have a significant effect on the quality of the individual’s life and, will be a benefit for the community at large. Lack of social skills is known to contribute to this population’s high rate of depression and acting-out behaviors.  These youth may have trouble functioning at school and in any peer-related activities.  As adults, their lack of social skills leads to high unemployment rates. Without appropriate early intervention, these individuals may be unable to reach their potential and we, as a society, will be unable to benefit from their unique contributions.

ASTEP believes that access to the arts is essential to children’s academic and social success. From improving reading comprehension to advancing creative thinking, from teaching problem solving to fostering collaboration, access to the arts brings about significant improvements in children’s educational and social development.