The Penguin Project has been honored with the 2017 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award. The national program uses theatre to help transform the lives of children with special needs.
The Penguin Project was founded in 2004 by pediatrician Andrew Morgan, who recognized the power of the creative arts in promoting learning and life skills in young people with disabilities.
Through partnerships with schools and community theatres across the country, the program gives children with special needs access to theatre in a unique way—by pairing each disabled child or teenager with a non-disabled mentor in his or her age group.
The young artists have a wide spectrum of special needs including Down syndrome, Autism Spectrum Disorders, intellectual disabilities, cerebral palsy, and ADHD. Participation in the program enhances social skills, communication skills, and self-esteem.
The Penguin Project has become a national program with 26 replication sites in 15 states throughout the country.
The 12 awardees of the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award—chosen from a pool of 350 nominations and 50 finalists—were recognized for improving academic achievement, literacy and language abilities, communication and performance skills, and cultural awareness.
“These 12 creative youth development programs represent the best of the best,“ said Pam Breaux, president and chief executive officer of the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies. "They are living proof of the power of the arts and the humanities to build the skills young people need to succeed in school and in life."
The Penguin Project will receive $10,000 to support its programming. Learn more about the organization by visiting PenguinProject.org.