Sparkt My Interest

Theatre for Young Audiences Helps Boy with Autism Find His Voice

"There is nothing more important that I can be doing with my life."

On this week's Sparkt My Interest, Kelly talks with Caren Hearne, the hyper-creative and resourceful Artistic Director of the Mariposa Theatre for Young Audiences in Bellevue, Pittsburgh, about the importance of giving kids (and their guardians) a space to express themselves.

"Theater helps to shape us as human beings," Caren begins, making it clear the theater, and the creativity that it encourages, is just as important for adults as it is for children.

Theater is that other world that allows creativity to explode. And with the upcoming Mr. Rogers film impacting the emotions of viewers around the world (I'm not crying, you're crying), giving kids a space to express themselves is more relevant than ever. "I look back at all of the things that I learned from Mr. Rogers," Caren says, "and I didn't realize I was learning. Even adults can walk away from a show written for children and say 'I didn't realize that I would relate to this.'"

Caren recalls one mother who pulled her aside before a show and expressed concern that her son, who had autism, may feel overwhelmed. "He doesn't talk a lot, he's very withdrawn," Caren recalls the mother describing. "He doesn't make eye contact."

But after the show, the boy was up on the stage and talking happily with the actors. And with tears running down her face, his mother disclosed to Caren that she had never seen him talk to strangers.

"There is nothing more important that I can be doing with my life than to have that impact and to make sure that every kid has the opportunity to feel, and to express themselves."

You can help support the Mariposa Theatre by donating here , and keep your fingers crossed that they receive some much-needed funding from the Pittsburgh Foundation and other local organizations!

Good luck Mariposa, and thank you for all the good you do!


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