As a 15-year-old attending high school in West Hartford, CT, Micaela Connery was troubled by how fellow students with special needs weren’t fully included in school activities. So that year, in 2002, she founded Unified Theater—a school program where students with special needs could create, perform and manage a stage show all on their own. The program was a complete success.
By 2009, Micaela had graduated from college. Inspired by the club’s growth at her alma mater, she decided to transform the club into a fully formed non-profit organization that could be implemented in schools everywhere. The Unified Theater Spotlight School program was born.
Now, six years later, Micaela’s dreams have blossomed into a program active in over 100 schools in several states—and Dylan’s Wings of Change is thrilled to be part of the expansion in Connecticut. This past June, Dylan’s Wings awarded a $10,000 grant to Unified Theater, which will help bring the program—including staff, materials, training, transportation and other necessary resources—to 10 schools in southern CT next year.
“Nothing brings our team more joy than discovering young people in our community who want to make a difference,” says Ian Hockley, project director of Dylan’s Wings of Change. “What Micaela created with the Unified Theater program perfectly aligns with the mission of Dylan’s Wings—to help children with autism and related conditions reach their full potential. By awarding this $10,000 grant to Unified Theater, even more children with special needs will gain the skills and confidence they need for life—all while having fun and making friends.”
Every Unified Theater Spotlight School program must adhere to five requirements:
The show must be entirely student-led.
Everyone participates—and there are no roles or classifications based on ability.
The production must be an original creation by the students with music, movement and acting.
The production and program must be flexible to (and inclusive of) any student need.
Participants must be middle, high school and/or college students.
To learn more about the Unified Theater Spotlight School program, contact Ian Hockley or visit the Unified Theater blog. To donate to Dylan’s Wings of Change and put the power of even more grant resources to work for similarly inclusive sports and arts programs, click here.