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Vancouver theatre helps build confidence in those with disabilities

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Reported by Cheryl Whiting

A Vancouver theatre company is helping students with developmental disabilities find confidence in themselves.

The program is held at Moberly Arts and Cultural Centre, where Don Hardy has been the program instructor for the Vancouver Adapted Theatre Company for six years. He teaches along side Gordon Clark. Hardy and Clark, both musical therapists, work with a team of staff to help students with developmental disabilities write, rehearse, and choreograph a 45-minute theatre production, culminating in a final performance next May.

“We use projected imagery for the sets, so we do some filmmaking as well as the live theatre,” said Hardy. “It’s a real hands on experience for the kids, and everyone works to their own ability.”

Opportunities are endless

Hardy said that the personal benefits for students are enormous, and does not rule out future career opportunities for participants.

“I can point to lots of kids who have come through the program and discovered other things they can do because they have really built confidence,” Hardy said. “[That includes] going to college and stuff like that, that wasn’t in the cards for them before,” he said.

Don’t expect less

Susanna Uchatius is the artistic director of Theatre Terrific, a company for people over 20. Uchatius cautions people against expecting less from those living with disabilities.

“I find it highly disrespectful,” she said. “The assumption being made that we won’t do this because we can’t expect [people with disabilities] to even make a go of it,” she said.

Theatre Terrific, the company that Susanna Uchatius directs. Photo courtesy of Susanna Uchatius
Theatre Terrific, the company that Susanna Uchatius directs. Photo courtesy of Susanna Uchatius

Similarly, Hardy said, “It’s all about building confidence and really feeling good about yourself.”

The Vancouver Adapted Theatre Company program runs every Thursday evening and is currently accepting registrations through the Sunset Community Centre Association website.

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