Penguin Project Develops Human Potential

Lincoln Community Playhouse Penguin Project

The Penguin Project is a musical theatre production that casts children and young adults (artists), ages 10-21, with intellectual and/or physical special needs in all roles. This project gives children the opportunity for social interaction and development of friendships with peer mentors. A community of support and connection among the families is created through their children working together.

The first Penguin Project show, Annie Jr., was a rousing success. We had 26 artists and 25 mentors take part in the program February-June 2014. Many parents of the artists gave us feedback about how important this program was to their children, who tend to be socially isolated because of their special needs. “You took a bunch of individuals and turned them into a family. You believed in them and helped them to do things they/we never imagined they could do. You gave them confidence and strength. And they/we will never be the same,” Greg Keller, father of an artist.

The Penguin Project is free to its participants, so a family’s income is not a barrier to participation. Rehearsals for Disney’s "The Little Mermaid Jr." began in February, one day a week, gradually increasing to 2-4 rehearsals per week closer to the show dates in June. We are planning to have three shows for the public, and one for people with special needs and their families.

One of our goals is to make the Playhouse accessible to people of all abilities and economic statuses. Funding for this program will help make theatre available for children with special needs, but more so, children who participate in the Penguin Project and their parents learn that they are capable of so much more than they ever thought possible. Watch the video below and visit the Lincoln Playhouse's Website for more information about this incredible project.

The Lincoln Arts Council is a proud supporter of the project through the LAC Project Grants Program.