Making Community Connection Through The Arts
The Include Everyone Project (IEP) is a new non-profit organization that has bridged the gap between the Arts and people of all abilities and disabilities. What started as a mixed ability dance class has quickly turned into a welcoming space that works to Include Everyone. The three founders: Kristen, Rodney and Kate created this platform because as professionals and parents they want to ensure a safe environment for children with the goals to grow this operation to reach more families. “About 3 years ago I was teaching a dance class for autism movement therapy and had Kate and Rodney’s children as my students; one day we got together and discussed how there was a need for more inclusive programs for children of all ability levels after Rodney was frustrated with a camp his son was attending because they were unable to accommodate his son’s needs,” commented Kristen. During this conversation they discovered they were a perfect mixture of different arts to create something to bring their ideas to life in a performance art camp. “We sat their talking about how I was the dancing part, Rodney was the music and Kate had a background in theater, so we decided to do our own program,” Kristen added.
IEP conducted its first camp that included a musical theater camp experience that continued to grow over the next year. “In 2018, we did a Superhero’s performing arts camp for our kids, and we had great sponsorships and a lot of good feedback from the kids and their families it really reinforced that this was something the community needed,” Rodney added. After seeing the success of the camps, the three decided to turn this venture into a non-profit. “We created the non-profit to have better access to resources so we could further our reach,” commented Kristen. “When you have parents coming up to you with tears in their eyes thanking you for giving their child this opportunity who in other times might have been shut out or made to feel a failure because of their own disabilities really has been what drives us to continue forward,” Kate added.
In light of the pandemic the IEP program has transitioned to digital meetings and performances and soon hopes to meet up again to get back to having fun in person. They work with children of all ages and just require that the younger ones have supervision for both neurotypical and disabled individuals. “We are fortunate in our collective experience to work with all ages which allows us the opportunity to tailor our activities, interventions, and interactions to a wide variety of needs,” Rodney stated. Through their program they cater to both hard and soft skills to better the overall experience for everyone. “Through IEP, our kids learn about the connection between the mind and the body and allows them to make those milestones through movement and our activities,” Kate informed. From range of motion to cognitive connections IEP’s programs are providing more than just fun. “As the kids continue to work with us, we have seen subtle improvements in their movements and communication skills,” Rodney commented.
IEP currently offers weekly events, and everyone is welcomed for an update on upcoming events please reach out on their Facebook page @iepscv and for more information on how to get involved please visit the website: www.iepscv.com.
At the heart of the IEP SCV program is it’s amazing founders who put every child’s need for happiness and acceptance above all things. Their program is inclusive, interactive, and downright fun! I enjoyed watching my kid’s faces light up as we sang, danced, and found creative new ways to make music.
Fiona’s favorite part was the flexibility of the classes. If something wasn’t working for the group, Miss Kristin was a magician who could flip the class around and get them paying attention again. The dance classes remained lively, which is exactly what my daughter’s energy needed.
Include Everyone helped my daughter build the skills she needed to participate in other activities. She was allowed to be herself in a loving environment as she practiced listening and being part of a group.
Hi my name is Sophia and I loved going to class and dancing all around with the colorful ribbons. I loved when the teacher would say something about an animal and we had to guess which animal. My favorite was playing the drums fast and slow with all the kids.
Everything was fun! The activities were very fun, and there was something special for all the kids at the very end. If you don’t feel accepted in your own life, this program will help you get out of your comfort zone.
– Connor (Student)
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