Paper Mill Offers Drama Class For Kids With Developmental Disabilities

MILLBURN — Paper Mill Playhouse in partnership with VSA-NJ will present its first creative drama class for students with developmental disabilities ages 9 to 12. This class meets Fridays from April 13 through May 25, from 3:45 to 4:45 p.m. This six-week program costs $170 per student.

Designed specifically for children with developmental disabilities, and planned in cooperation with VSA-NJ, an organization which provides a wide array of arts programming for children and adults with disabilities, this brand-new class will include theater improvisation, story telling, music, movement and visual art. The series will creatively address and include diverse learning styles and modes of communication. The classes will be held on-site at Paper Mill Playhouse, and will be instructed by Leslie Fanelli of VSA-NJ.

“I am very pleased to broaden the offerings in our Theater for Everyone programming,” said Lisa Cooney, Paper Mill Playhouse’s Director of Education. “In this instance, as with all of our classes, we’ll certainly see how arts education is not merely the icing on the cake to a child’s education, but it’s really the baking soda that helps all kids grow and explore ways of communicating.”

Paper Mill Playhouse has long provided a Theater For Everyone model and in 2011 the theater began offering a groundbreaking program, Sensory Friendly live theater performances for children with autism and other developmental disabilities.

Mickey McNany, Paper Mill Playhouse’s Theater School Director comments, “My granddaughter has Downs Syndrome and for her 9th birthday we had a theater party and she acted out the most enchanting ‘Sleeping Beauty’. She had invited many of her friends from Stepping Stones, a school for children with disabilities. After the party, many of the parents thought it would be wonderful if there was a program where their children could have the opportunity to play these roles. My response was, ‘Why not!’ Paper Mill Playhouse is thrilled to offer this new class in partnership with VSA-NJ.”

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