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Empower announces free theater program for children with autism spectrum disorder


Wed, Sep 14th 2016 02:55 pm

Empower, the not-for-profit organization formerly known as Niagara Cerebral Palsy, will a free, 10-week series of theater workshops for children with autism spectrum disorder. Classes will be held at Empower Children's Academy from 5-7 p.m. on Tuesdays, Oct. 4, through Nov. 29. A free final performance showcasing students' work will take place Saturday, Dec. 3.

Families of children ages 7 to 15 with autism spectrum disorder are encouraged to register, and may bring a sibling or friend. Brianna Lanoye, theater instructor, will lead students in individual exercises to develop confidence and problem-solving skills. During group exercises, students will improve their social skills.

To register, contact Elizabeth Cardamone.

Empower CEO Jeff Paterson said, "Research shows that theater improves social skills in children with autism spectrum disorder, and this certainly was evident in students who took part in the first session. From the first class to the final performance, students were more relaxed with one another and better able to maintain eye contact. They had a blast performing a play called 'Dimensions,' created entirely from their imaginations."

This program is funded by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, and is administered by the Arts Services Initiative of Western New York.

With 300 employees and a $14 million budget, Empower is one of Western New York's 50 largest nonprofit organizations. The administrative offices, preschool, community clinic and service coordination program are located on Lockport Road in the Town of Niagara. The job training and day programs division is based in Niagara Falls, while residential facilities are located throughout Niagara County. Licensed by the New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities and the New York State Education Department, Empower is an affiliate of the Cerebral Palsy Association of New York State.

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