On Jan. 15, Country School second graders visited the unique and inspirational Prospector Theater in Ridgefield whose mission is to provide meaningful employment to people with disabilities.
Students met with employees or “Prospects” (as the theater refers to them) and were given a tour of the unique space which includes a three-story recycled art sculpture, screening rooms full of bean bag chairs, wall-to-wall vintage movie posters and bathrooms designed to feel like A-list dressing rooms.
Prospects spoke about their work, their passions and pointed out the many ways they contribute to the theater and “find their sparkle”- by being movie announcers and ushers, making PSA videos which screen before the movies, creating the artwork that covers the theater, embroidering names on uniforms, creating costumes, and even rapping before a movie.
“Your sparkle is doing what you really love,” said second grader Dylan Berkeley. “The prospects feel like they have sparkle.”
“Everything was hot pink and black,” said second grader Max Tangen. “The whole place was so creative.”
At the end of the visit, the students, with the help of one of the prospects, wrote raps in an activity called “Raptivity.” See below for second grader Emily Jantzen’s rap.
The field trip was part of larger social studies unit on identity. Over the course of their second grade experience, students learn about each of the eight social identifiers: race, ethnicity, gender, age, ability, religion, socio-economic status and family structure. During their study of ability, students discussed the difference between a physical disability a mental disability. They learned about the lives of blind and deaf people by reading stories such as Buddy: The First Seeing Eye Dog, and through a series of books about a deaf boy named Moses by Isaac Millman.
“At the theater, I learned that you can’t always see a disability,” said second grader Kate Regan.
“Before we went to the theater, we talked about why a person with a disability would want a job,” said second grade teacher Emily Anglund. “We discussed the importance of dignity, sharing passions and a desire for independence that all people have regardless of their ability.”
My name is Emily, and I’m here to say
I learned about the costume room today
Raps and food and art are what I make
People say I’m so creative, silly and great
I play anything and now I rhyme
Basketball, building and stuffed animals help make my sparkle shine.