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ERIC Number: EJ880856
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Mar
Pages: 5
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 0
ISSN: ISSN-0046-9157
Using Art to Advocate and Empower Parents: This Exit, No Return
Cowdery, Joy
Exceptional Parent, v40 n3 p32-36 Mar 2010
Advocacy begins with an assumption that if a number of community members are suffering, then there must be something wrong, not with the individual members, but with the community as a whole; therefore, the community must be changed to help alleviate that suffering. Advocacy creates a platform for change by allowing individuals to begin the process of improvement through finding their voice and believing their voice can produce change. Advocacy is essential for parents to address the imbalance of power and control when their child has a disability and the community and schools see their child, not as different, but as deficient. Traditional formats for advocacy have included multiple public discourses. One of the most powerful forms of public discourse for producing change can be achieved through performing arts. This medium transforms feelings, thoughts, and images into aesthetic persuasion that allows participants and audience members to experience a phenomenon in a new way and to ask questions that might not have been asked. Performing stories has been a means of connecting audiences to lived experiences in the language of ordinary people since the beginning of mankind. Readers' theatre is "a form of group story-telling in which two of more readers present a piece of literature by reading aloud from hand-held scripts." The strength of a readers' theatre performance "lies in the transformation of each participant as she or he engages in conversation, reflection, and action in community with others." Because the "action" of the story takes place, not on a stage, but in the minds of the audience as enhanced by the vocal and facial expressions of the readers, the staging can be as simple as stools and ladders in a cafeteria, library, or classroom or as elaborate as a stage supplemented by lighting and levels. This article presents a play, "This Exit, No Return," wherein each parent expresses individually their initial reactions to discovering that their child will grow up differently. They voice their fears, hopes, and dreams as they describe for an audience the frustrations and riches of their lives. The piece is intended to be used by groups to bring awareness to the general public and to teachers and other school personnel of the perception that children with disabilities are unique and whole individuals. While this may seem an unusual medium for advocating for children with disabilities, it has been proven to be very effective. This play has been read in many classes for special education and general education teachers.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Early Childhood Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A