What is The Penguin Project?
The Penguin Project is an inclusive program that gives students with special needs the opportunity to share their creative talents by performing in a modified version of a Broadway musical. All of the roles in "Penguin" productions are filled by young artists with special needs. This includes students with Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, autism, learning disabilities, visual and hearing impairments, and other neurological and developmental disorders.
Utilizing a peer mentor system, each young artist is paired with an age-level peer who does not have a special need. The peer mentor works side-by-side with their partner, supporting them from first rehearsal to final performance. Involvement in The Penguin Project enhances social interaction, strengthens communication skills, boosts self-confidence, and builds friendships.
Carolina Youth Theatre is proud to be the first Penguin Project replication site in North Carolina! We will be launching this program in 2021.
The Penguin Project name comes from the unique characteristics of penguins. They are playful, curious, work well together and have a "disability" that distinguishes them from other birds; they can't fly. Instead, penguins waddle, toboggan on their bellies, and are excellent swimmers. Like young artists with particular challenges, they have adapted to their environment and refuse to allow differences to dampen their enjoyment of life.
The Penguin Project was founded in Peoria, Illinois by Dr. Andrew Morgan, a medical specialist for children with special needs and a lifelong participant in community theater. Dr. Andy recognized that children with special needs and their families have limited opportunities to participate in community activities. He also realized that participation in the performing arts has therapeutic value by enhancing socialization, communication skills, and self-esteem. In 2004, Dr. Andy combined his two passions and created The Penguin Project. In response to the tremendous success of The Penguin Project in Peoria, a comprehensive replication process has been established to assist other communities in developing their own program. There are now dozens of replication sites across the country.
The Penguin Project was honored with the 2017 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award given by The National Endowment for the Arts and The National Assembly of State Arts Agencies.
Carolina Youth Theatre's Penguin Project
Coming in 2021!
Note: We are the first replication site in North Carolina and one of only a few sites in the Southeast.
Young Artists and Peer Mentors
must be 10-21 years old.
Contact Nikki Dyke @ firstname.lastname@example.org