Peer Mentor Program
Special Gifts Theatre has a very unique component to its theatre program called the “Peer Mentor Program.” This mentoring program consists of Peer Mentors, who are typically developing children that can range in age from seven years through late teens. These Peer Mentors are then matched one-on-one with students in the program. The mentors volunteer their time to attend all classes and rehearsals with their “theatre buddy” and are onstage with them during each performance.
This program has proven to extend beyond the boundaries of Special Gifts Theatre, as friendships, understanding and respect grow on a daily basis. When possible, we try to have mentors and theatre buddies in the same school district so relationships can continue to grow outside of SGT. This becomes an important part of our mission as we “break down stereotypes related to disabilities within the community at large.” This program offers as many growth experiences for the nondisabled as it does for the children with special needs. Experiencing diversity early in life helps children learn to accept and appreciate others for their inner creative being.
Peer Mentors come to the program one day a week and spend about 1 to 1 ½ hours per week volunteering their time in the classroom with their theatre buddy. The specific days and times of the week vary since we do have multiple programs that offer Peer Mentors. The length of the program can be from two to seven months where each mentor works directly with a student that has special needs. The friendship and bond that grows between these two individuals during the program is significant. Each week the student looks forward to seeing their buddy so together they can work on the show. Since the Peer Mentor has such an important role with the student, a strong commitment on behalf of each mentor is required for this program.
Peer Mentors work with their “theatre buddy” in the classroom and on stage. Activities shared together include exercises, games, learning lines, acting techniques, dancing and singing. Each session ends with an on-stage production. As the season comes to an end, peer mentors are expected to be at dress rehearsals and performances to assist and encourage their theatre buddy on stage.
The magic that happens during this program is truly stunning! The peer mentors along with the students, expand disability awareness, foster friendships, and honor the creative spirit in everyone as they work side-by-side learning new skills, breaking down barriers and preparing for the final production.
If you are interested in being a peer mentor please complete our application. Upon receipt, we will then contact you with specific opportunities that are available.