The Paul V. Sherlock Center on Disabilities at Rhode Island College awarded a total of $10,000 in "Access for Abilities" mini-grants to five Rhode Island organizations.
Recipients of the 2010 grants are The Contemporary Theater Company, The Grand Piano, 2nd Story Theatre, Norman Bird Sanctuary and Slater Mill.
The Contemporary Theater Company, located in South County, used its grant to stage a production of "Alice in Wonderland" in collaboration with GEAR Productions, a South Kingstown community organization that produces theatrical performances for children. The show, held in November 2010, included 44 people with physical and/or cognitive disabilities and 24 trained actors. The play was performed in front of more than 800 members of the public and more than 600 schoolchildren. Participants had the opportunity to experience all aspects of a professionally produced play - from acting, singing and dancing to set building and backstage work. Several appeared in prominent roles with extended stage time including the White Queen, the Red Knight, the Mad Hatter and the Queen of Hearts. The event was so successful, that the two companies are considering a similar show in 2012 and are exploring way to keep the cast of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland engaged with theater.
View a video that highlights the rehearsal process and audience feedback.
The award to the Grand Piano of Greenville is using grant money to create a karaoke program for children and adults with and without disabilities, providing opportunity for participants to share music and socialize through a venue designed to minimize performance anxiety and build confidence. Funds are designated for portable equipment so the participants can perform at community and public venues. Participants are recruited via the local high school, newspaper, social networking resources, and word or mouth. Experienced singers "buddy" with those less experienced to build confidence and social skills.
2nd Story Theatre used grant funds to purchase 10 personal stereo sound amplifiers for audience members who need hearing assistance to enjoy live theater. The theatre is fully accessible to those with disabilities.
The Norman Bird Sanctuary used the grant money to repair the Norman Universal Access Trail, which was impassable by wheelchair in some areas, and to promote the restored accessibility of the facility. The Universal Trail system begins at the main parking lot and ends at an observation deck overlooking Red Maple Swamp Pond. In the past, visitors using wheelchairs were only able to visit the gift shop, rest rooms and small surrounding area, which did not include a New England hardwood forest. The improvements enabled many school groups, which included students with disabilities, to make the mile trip into the woodland and to the Red Maple Pond observation deck this past fall.
Slater Mill is using the grant funds to draw up plan for ramps and handrails to make the waterwheel and machine shop exhibits at the Wilkinson Mill fully accessible.