Kids on stage

Debbie Goncalves, Founder & Director – TA-DA! Productions

My theatre program meets many needs of those with special needs within our community. From providing them a social activity in the evening to allowing them to express themselves in an artistic manner. For many who have graduated from school, it provides them the challenge that they seek. For others, it provides them a learning experience from improving their speech to motor skills. Lastly, a dream that most have – being a star and being recognized as one.

My theatre program is designed to work on the many needs of a variety of teens and adults with special needs. We work on social skills, fine & gross motor skills, language skills and so forth. Through their participation, the actors have formed social relationships that now exist outside of our theatre program. Furthermore, not only has my program improved the lives of those who participate in it but those around us in the community. People who have attended our show now have a different and better understanding of my students. They can see what the can do when they are challenged and respected. Our group of supporters has grown from 50 to 315 in just a few years.

This has always been my dream – to work with children with special needs. So, I work as a special education teacher by day but I saw such a need for evening programs and for those who graduated and have nothing else in their future. I want the community to understand that everyone, no matter what, have a right to be a part of the community. To be valued for what they can do not what they can’t do well. The community needs to be educated on what it is to be disabled. People who have attended our show for the first time are shocked by what my performers can do. Through our performances and media coverage, I want the world to accept their differences and support them.

The initial seed grante from The Pollination Project got us started! I was able to make my dream come alive by having the means to purchase the basic items we needed to get the theatre program up and running. And, now, we haven’t looked back! We have grown each year from participation to support to guests in our audience.

It will definitely make a difference in the type and quality of show we can put on going forward. There is always room to grow and improve on as a developing theatre company including tech equipment, costumes and such. With this award, we can now purchase some larger ticket items that was on our wish list.

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