All Special Gifts Theatre programs are developed and adapted using evidence-based research techniques and industry best practices implemented by our multi-disciplinary team of staff. Since 2005, we have been conducting formal research on how we positively impact students and peer mentors during the time they are involved in our program. We track student and peer mentor growth with a combination of pre and post session assessments, case notes and observations, survey responses, and feedback. Goals are tracked in the areas of:
Self-esteem and self-confidence
Communication skills
Social skills
Self-determination and self-advocacy skills
Gross motor and coordination skills
Individual parent-identified goals

We are proud to report that during our 2022-23 season:

  • 100% of students demonstrated increased self-confidence
  • 99% of students demonstrated improvement in their parent-identified goal
  • 100% of peer mentors reported an increase in knowledge about disability awareness
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We remain the only organization in the Chicago area that provides educational and therapeutic theatre arts programming for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

SGT programming consistently meets or exceeds the expectation of the stakeholders involved in the program, including parents, students with disabilities and peer mentors. As we conduct and compare our research each year, the data indicates a positive increase in behavior and skill development for the students with disabilities and their peer mentors. Most importantly, it was documented that these skills were transferring to environments outside of SGT including school, home and social environments.

Throughout the years, we have been thrilled to partner with teams of experienced professionals from schools including National Louis University, Northeastern Illinois University, Northwestern University, Rush University’s Occupational Therapy Department, University of Chicago, and University of Illinois (UIC) Department of Disability and Human Development. Recent research projects include:

  • Evidence based best practices to develop community outreach (Rush University)
  • Improvement in program evaluation (University of Chicago)
  • Stand Out! Program Development showed statistically significant increase in participant self-determination (Rush University)
  • Inclusive Theatre Festival presentation (Northwestern University)