Respite Day in honor of International Day of Persons with Disabilities

1:32 PM
In anticipation of International Day of Persons with Disabilities, First Stage hosted a Respite Day event for current students and alum of its Next Steps program, the Theater Academy program designed for young people on the autism spectrum, on Dec. 2 at the Milwaukee Youth Arts Center.

Respite Day allowed students and alum to enjoy a day of holiday fun, while continuing to build a strong bond with their peers, as well as give a break to their caregivers.

Next Steps students joined with six neuro-typical teachers and interns to paint reindeer ornaments, play games, like “Pin the Nose on Rudolph,” and watch the 1964 movie "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer."

“Respite Day was a great way to provide an opportunity for our students to continue to work on their social skills,”Giana Blazquez, K-4/Next Steps Program Director said. “While we are always focusing on building students’ engagement and expression in class, Respite Day provided a stress-free environment for our students to continue to build community with the staff and each other.”

One of Blazquez’s favorite moments happened while the students were creating their reindeer ornaments. “I had put on holiday music in the background, but when the song 'Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer' came on, all of the students began to sing along,” Blazquez said. “The student support for each other was exemplified in that moment as all of the students sang loudly with bright smiles on their faces.”

She further added “It was such a joyful moment to see the relationships students built at First Stage represented in that moment,” Blazquez said.

In addition to the Theater Academy classes that are part of the Next Steps program, First Stage offers sensory friendly performances of select productions throughout its season, including the upcoming  performance of BIG RIVER on Saturday, March 23. 

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