Once a year, a magical and touching celebration of the human spirit unfolds at numerous theaters across the country. A group of children in a program called The Penguin Project take to the stage to perform a modified version of a well-known Broadway musical. These productions are unique, however, because all the roles are filled by young artists with developmental disabilities including Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, autism, intellectual disabilities, learning disabilities visual impairment, hearing impairment, and other neurological disorders. They are joined on stage by a dedicated group of “peer mentors” – children the same age without disabilities who have volunteered to work side-by-side with them through 4 months of rehearsals and through the final performance. By providing access to community theater, The Penguin Project demonstrates that the special challenges of a disability should not handicap a child’s ability to participate in life’s experiences.
Established in 2004, The Penguin Project has evolved into a National program, with replication sites throughout the United States. The program provides a supportive environment for children with disabilities to explore their creative talents. It has also demonstrated that participation in the performing arts has therapeutic value by enhancing social interaction, communication skills, self-confidence and self-esteem. The impact of the program has reached beyond the stage to create a social network for children who previously had very few friends and limited social opportunities. Learn more about the Penguin Project at http://penguinproject.org
“Our penguins may not be able to fly, but that does not prevent their spirits from soaring.”
The Starved Rock Country Community Foundation is pleased to partner with Engle Lane Theater, Streator, Illinois, to bring
The Penguin Project
to our community. A “get acquainted” meeting will be held in November 14, 2017 with the inaugural live theater performance in mid-March, 2018. For more information, contact Jeff Houk at the Engle Lane Theater or visit