MPowered Kids puts children who tend to be more comfortable in the background center stage.
The nonprofit organization offers theater arts for children in first grade through high school with social and communications disorders such as social anxiety disorder, autism, Asperger's, pervasive developmental disorder and integration dysfunction disorder.
The program caters to a demographic of kids with special needs who are otherwise overlooked: children who are neither low nor high functioning.
"There are no programs out there for kids in the gray areas," says Lara Gold, founder and president of MPowered Kids. "Kids within the gray areas are lost in the shuffle. There is a need for programming."
Professional drama and voice coaches assist the kids in developing songs, scripts and dances. The program instills communication and social skills using a staff ranging from social workers to speech and language pathologists.
MPowered Kids focuses on a child's abilities, not their limitations. One of the main goals is to raise confidence, she says.
As a former special education teacher, Gold has seen many kids with amazing talents. "The children are free to be themselves," Gold says. "The program brings out their general best."
For information on fall and winter sessions, go online at www.mpoweredkids.org.
See more of Alyssa's stories here.