First Stage receives Eureka Award for its Next Steps program

by Erica Davis

The Business Journal’s Eureka Awards recognize creativity and innovation in business, education and the arts.  First Stage was recognized in the category of performing arts for its Next Steps program for students with autism.

The Next Steps program began last August and has seen continued growth and enthusiasm within the community.  “The Academy philosophy of teaching life skills through stage skills helps so many students gain confidence, make friends, and express themselves creatively,” said Jennifer Adams, First Stage’s Academy director and Next Steps program manager.  “Bringing this opportunity to students on the Autism spectrum, who often don't have the same opportunities as their typically developing peers, is exactly the kind of thing First Stage wants to do, serve ALL the youth in Milwaukee.”

Components of the program include classes that allow students the opportunity to learn social skills among their peers while participating in theatrical and musical activities, as well as sensory-friendly performances.  The performances are specially designed to serve children with autism and their families.
Next Steps, Summer 2012

Adams attended the Eureka Awards luncheon with First Stage Managing Director Betsy Corry on May 10.  “It is a huge honor to be included among all of the innovative companies at the Eureka Awards,” said Adams. “The drive to push our boundaries and transform lives constantly keeps First Stage on the verge of creativity and innovation in the arts.”

Betsy Corry acknowledges the Greater Milwaukee Foundation and the Stackner Family Foundation as sources of vital funding for the program.  Adams noted that the support of many families, community partners, students and teachers ultimately helped make the program, as innovative as it is.  “I am so proud of our Next Steps program and look forward to seeing it continue to grow,” she commented. 

“We don’t necessarily have an agenda except to serve more kids and transform even more lives through theater,” added Corry.  “That’s what we really want to do.”

Learn more about Next Steps classes and sensory-friendly performances.

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