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Special needs adults and kids take to the stage as part of summer camp

Summer Camp
Posted at 12:49 PM, Jun 30, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-30 20:53:56-04

MESA, AZ — Unbreakable bonds are being built this week as part of the Arizona Magic of Music and Dance Summer Camp.

“You can’t smile when your crying, there ya go,” said Anna Adams to her “Stage Buddie” Emma Biggs.

Thursday is final rehearsal, and Emma and Anna are working hard to nail the perfect performance.

“I’m gonna be singing driver’s license,” said Emma, a 34-year-old special needs adult.

“Emma’s the best, we’re always laughing, she loves to be on stage obviously from her big smile,” said Anna.

For the past fifteen years, one week every summer, adults and kids with both physical and cognitive disabilities step into the spotlight and out of their comfort zone.

“There’s some people that came in like super shy and now they’re like doing splits on the stage or like being super vocal when they wouldn’t speak a word before,” said Anna.

It’s a transformation happening thanks to volunteers like Anna, a student at Westwood High School in Mesa.

“The buddies shadow the actors all week helping them learn their lines, doing art projects, all these other fun activities that they do, and at the end of the week, we put on a full musical theater production for the general public to watch,” said Program Director Vinny Chavez.

Chavez says the camp provides an authentic theatrical experience for folks who rarely get this opportunity.

“It’s definitely inspirational and a beautiful thing to see that those that you wouldn’t think or those even in their application that their parents or guardians fill out saying you probably won’t get a lot out of them this week but they’re excited to do this, and those are the ones that surprise us the most,” said Chavez.

The week is culminating in lifelong friendships and a final performance helping them to transcend their limitations and discover the true possibilities within themselves. The public is invited out to Westwood High School on Friday, July 1st at noon to enjoy this year's production.