The Penguin Project was conceived by Dr. Andrew Morgan to give individuals with special needs an opportunity to participate in the performing arts. He created The Penguin Project recognizing that theatre not only provides individuals with a valuable recreational experience and an opportunity to display their creative talents, but also enhances social interaction, communication skills, assertiveness, and self-esteem.
The Penguin Project strives to demonstrate that individuals with special needs are fully capable of participating in community activities with the same dedication and enthusiasm as others if given the opportunity and support. The origin of the name “Penguin Project” comes from the unique characteristics of penguins. They are extremely playful and curious and work well together. More importantly, they have a “disability” that distinguishes them from other birds – they can’t fly! Instead, penguins waddle and toboggan on their bellies over the snow, and are excellent swimmers in the water. So like our young artist, they have adapted to the challenges of their environment, and have not allowed their unique differences to interfere with their lives. The Penguin Project utilizes a “peer mentor” system, linking each young artist with an age level peer who does not have a disability. The peer mentors work side-by-side with their partners, assisting them throughout the entire rehearsal process on stage. They are in the state with their partners in the same or complimentary costumes throughout the entire show. Among the many benefits is the impact on the parents. For the first time, many of them have experienced the joy of sitting in an audience and watching their child perform and succeed in ways they never thought possible. Muskegon Civic Theatre is the first Penguin Project site in the state of Michigan and we are 1 state out of 14 part of the Penguin Project Foundation. On October 14th and 15th, the Artist and Mentors involved with the Penguin Project of Muskegon Civic Theatre will take the stage to perform Annie Jr at the Frauenthal Center located in Muskegon, MI. This will be the first of many Penguin Projects in the future. However, the production costs to cover such a memorable event is quite costly. Any amount is appreciated to help our Penguins soar!!